Mossie danger on the coast

By DAVID MOASE

PAUL Corben is more used to dealing with medical problems than giving tips on looking after your house, but he is advising local residents to clean up their backyards.

The director of the North Coast Area Health Service's Public Health Unit is giving the advice as the first step in guarding against the mosquito-borne Barmah Forest and Ross River viruses.

In 2005, about 300 cases of Barmah Forest virus and 200 cases of Ross River virus were recorded on the North Coast.

"On average over the past five years we have been notified of about 200 cases of Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus per year," he said.

"The North Coast has had about three-quarters of the State's reported cases of Barmah Forest virus and about 45 per cent of the cases of Ross River virus."

Barmah Forest virus produces symptoms similar to, but usually less severe than, Ross River virus.

These include feeling generally unwell, with a fever, painful and sometimes swollen joints and a rash that may appear on the body and limbs.

The symptoms have the potential to linger for a long period and prove very debilitating. There is no specific treatment.

Mr Corben said the best way to avoid contracting the viruses was to avoid being bitten by mosquitos and minimise breeding sites around your house.

He advises cleaning up your yard and removing all water-holding rubbish, regularly flushing out pot-plant bases, keeping house guttering clear and making sure the openings of septic tanks and water tanks are covered and screened securely.

When outside, wear long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and use an insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin as the active ingredient.



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