The Department of Health has reminded residents and travellers in the South West to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites over coming weeks.
The warning follows the first detection of Ross River virus in mosquitoes for the 2018/19 season, through the department’s routine mosquito and virus surveillance program in coastal parts of the South West.
Medical entomologist, Dr Peter Neville, said that mosquito populations in South West regions covered by the program were generally below or about average for this time of year, but detection of RRV virus in those mosquitoes meant that people should continue to take care to prevent being bitten.
Symptoms of RRV include painful or swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches. Symptoms can last for weeks or months and the only way to properly diagnose the viruses is by having a specific blood test.
Dr Neville said that reported cases of RRV so far this season are well below average. However, there is a potential for more people to be exposed to mosquito bites over coming weeks given temperatures are beginning to warm up and people will be frequenting the South West region for Dunsborough Leavers 2018 and the school holiday period.
There is no specific cure for RRV so it is very important that people take care to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.
“Mosquito management is being undertaken by local government authorities in collaboration with the Department of Health,” Dr Neville said.
“However, it is not realistic to rely on mosquito management programs alone to control mosquitoes – individuals living in or traveling to the region also need to take their own precautions to avoid mosquito bites.”
People living or traveling in the South West should adopt the recommended approach to “Fight-the-Bite” this season and in particular “Cover up, Repel and Clean-up” by following these simple measures:
For more information on how to prevent mosquito bites visit HealthyWA.
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