March of the Mozzies: Warning after mass infections

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Mosquito-borne viruses infected more than 600 residents of the Sunshine Coast this year, creating health concerns that led into the rainy season.

Queensland Health data showed that 494 people on the coast were affected by Ross River virus and 102 people were affected by Barmah Forest virus.

The number of people infected with Ross River virus has increased 1.6 times on a five-year average and 3.1 times on the five-year average of Barmah Forest virus.

The coming summer is expected to see heavy rainfall and warm conditions as the Bureau of Meteorology declares a La Nina weather event for Queensland.

Health officials have warned of the potential increase in mosquito numbers in the region.

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Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Care Doctor, Dr. Rosie Muller said she was concerned about the possible increase in mosquitoes and the health of Sunshine Coast and Gympie residents.

“Mosquitoes can infect people with Ross River virus or Barmah Forest virus if they bite,” said Dr. Muller.

“These viruses can cause mild to severe illness with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and joint or muscle pain.

“It is very important to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites and prevent mosquito build-up by examining your home and garden for stagnant water that can act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

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The following simple things can be done to prevent mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases:

• Stay vigilant at all times of the day (as different disease-causing mosquitoes can bite at different times), but especially in the morning and evening light on the Sunshine Coast.

• Wear long, loose, light-colored clothing.

• Use an insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin. Read and follow all directions and precautions on the product label for mosquito repellants, especially for infants.

• Empty all containers of water around the house and construction site every week.

• Install and maintain insect screens on all doors, windows and rainwater tanks. Under the Public Health Act 2005, you could be fined by your local council if your home or yard encourages mosquito breeding.

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