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Wet weather increases Ross River virus risk

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Top End residents are being urged to protect themselves against mosquitoes, with Ross River virus (RRV) cases expected to increase over the coming weeks due to recent wet weather.

Director of Medical Entomology, Nina Kurucz said the monsoonal rains have created the perfect breeding grounds for common banded mosquitoes which carry the virus.

"High numbers of these mosquitoes can be expected within 5 km of their breeding grounds, including seasonal wetlands and river and creek flood ways," she said.

To avoid mosquito borne disease, residents are urged to use personal mosquito protection and avoid being outdoors in wetland areas or places where mosquitoes are active, especially after sundown, from now until June.

Ms Kurucz also explained that the container mosquito that breeds in water-filled receptacles in backyards can carry Ross River virus.

"Residents need to inspect their backyards and tip out any water holding containers and store them under cover. Roof gutters also need to be cleared so they are free draining," she said.

People infected with RRV may develop a wide range of unpleasant symptoms, including painful or swollen joints, particularly in the hands, ankles and knees.

"Sore muscles, aching tendons, skin rash, fatigue, fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes are other signs of the illness. Symptoms can last for a few weeks, although some people experience symptoms for up to a year," Ms Kurucz said.

People in the NT are advised to:

  • ·         avoid locations near coastal swamps and freshwater wetlands
  • ·         avoid outdoor activity in the evening and at night in areas where mosquitoes are present
  • ·         use mosquito-proof accommodation and camping facilities at night
  • ·         wear light coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers and socks between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquito bites are likely
  • ·         use a protective repellent containing 20 per cent DEET or Picaridin as a supplement to protective clothing when outdoors at night in areas of mosquito activity
  • ·         use mosquito coils, mosquito lanterns, and barrier sprays containing bifenthrin in patio and outdoor areas near houses
  • ·         ensure children and animals are adequately protected against mosquito bites
  • ·         tip out any water holding receptacles

Media Contact: Bridget Wild 89 992 818 or 0401 116 203