Warning: mosquito danger on the way
By MEL MARTIN
MOSQUITOES are not just irritating, they are a danger to your health, and the North Coast Area Health Service has renewed warnings to protect yourself against them.
The warning comes after record numbers of reported cases, and recent testing of mosquitoes trapped on the Mid North Coast identified both Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.
With the highest per capita rates for cases of Barmah Forest virus being in the Bellingen, Nambucca and Kempsey council areas, and Coffs Harbour being a hotspot, it's particularly important to avoid being bitten in this region.
"Late summer rainfall, high tides and warm conditions over recent weeks have provided ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes and this has been reflected in the high mosquito numbers at some of our trapping sites," director of public health Paul Corben said.
"So far this year we have received 132 reported cases of Ross River virus, with 75 in the first half of March alone.
"This is the highest number of cases reported in this period in a decade and almost six times the average number of cases in the same period over the past five years."
Mr Corben said 61 cases of Barmah Forest virus infection had been reported, almost double the five-yearly average for this time of year.
"We could be in for a very bad year for mosquito-borne illness, so we very strongly advise people to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially during the coming Easter break."
As there is no specific treatment or vaccines for Barmah Forest or Ross River viruses, prevention of mosquito bites is the best strategy. So remember to cover up and avoid being bitten.