Cover up against mosquitos

TWO trapping sites in the Hastings have caught more than 300 mosquitoes, including species known to carry viruses, in a fortnight.

That means it’s time to cover up in a bid to avoid bites from potentially disease carrying mosquitoes.

People living on the north coast are five to eight times more likely than the state average to be infected with Barmah Forest virus and three to five times more likely to develop Ross River virus.

In each year over the past decade, about 500 people on average living on the north coast were diagnosed with either Ross River virus or Barmah Forest virus - in about equal numbers.

That is one of the highest rates in the state. Senior environmental health officer Kerryn Lawrence said both viruses were endemic in the Hastings.

“We have the common disease carrying mosquitoes and at the moment we are getting moderate to high numbers of the mosquitoes in the traps each week,” she said. The mosquitoes are sent to Sydney for identification and virus testing.

Mrs Lawrence advises people to take simple steps to avoid mosquito bites. People should cover up as much as possible, especially around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

They are also advised to apply mosquito repellant.

Simple steps around the house are also recommended such as the use of fly screens and removal of water-holding containers outside the house where mosquitoes could breed. Simple steps to avoid mosquito bites include:

n  When outside cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear. 

n  Use an effective repellent on all exposed skin.  Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off with perspiration.  The best mosquito repellents contain diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin.

n  Light mosquito coils or use vaporising mats indoors. Devices which use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.

n  Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.

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