02 Feb 2017
Top End residents are advised to protect themselves from mosquito bites, with mosquito numbers expected to increase following heavy rainfall across the region.
The Director of Medical Entomology, Nina Kurucz, explained that “extensive rainfall and flooding in some areas created favourable environmental conditions for the common banded mosquito to breed in high numbers.”
Common banded mosquitoes will increase in numbers about ten days following heavy rainfall or about ten days after flood waters recede. This mosquito is most active around sunset and sunrise but also during the night. It can carry the Ross River and Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus.
A surveillance program that monitors MVE virus activity in the Northern Territory has identified the potential presence of the virus in the Darwin region, with further testing now underway to confirm the results.
Murray Valley encephalitis symptoms can include severe headache, high fever, drowsiness, tremor and seizures (especially in young children). In some cases the disease can progress to delirium, coma, permanent brain damage or death.
Ross River virus symptoms include painful or swollen joints, particularly in the hands, ankles and knees, as well as fatigue and fever.
To minimise the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes people should:
wear protective light-coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers, and ankle protection with socks, between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquito bites are likely;
avoid outdoor exposure around dusk, and at night, near wetlands and areas of dense vegetation as well as other areas of high mosquito activity;
use a protective repellent containing 20% DEET or Picaridin and other mosquito protection devices as a supplement to protective clothing when out doors at night in areas of mosquito activity;
ensure children are adequately protected against mosquito bites;
consider bifenthrin insecticide barrier treatments by pest control companies for use around residential grounds;
use mosquito proof accommodation and camping facilities at night.
Media Contact: Dimitra Grehl 0427 596 954