A Tweed Shire council worker fogging to reduce mosquito numbers.
A Tweed Shire council worker fogging to reduce mosquito numbers.

Crippling virus detected in local mosquitoes

THE crippling Barmah Forest virus has been detected in mosquitoes in the Northern Rivers as numbers soar, warns the North Coast Public Health Unit.

Tweed Shire Council has been carrying out aerial and ground treatments in an attempt to control numbers of the bloodsucking parasite.

But the health unit warns mosquito populations continue to rise, driven by recent wet weather.

In recent weeks, the Gold Coast has also been tackling a plague of mosquitoes, which has been attributed to higher than normal tides and wet weather.

A female mosquito. PICTURE: MARC MCCORMACK
A female mosquito. PICTURE: MARC MCCORMACK

Health unit senior environmental health officer Tony Kohlenberg urged Tweed residents to do all they can to avoid being bitten by infected mosquitoes.

"Mosquito numbers have increased in early autumn as the season has gradually become wetter," he said.

NSW Health data shows nine people have been treated for Barmah Forest virus since the start of the year, while 20 people have been treated for Ross River virus.

 

Mr Kohlenberg said the virus had also been detected in the Mid-North Coast recently, but that both the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses were considered common in the region.

"These infections can cause symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints. The symptoms usually resolve after several days but some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months," he said.

The health unit warned higher tides could lead to even more mosquitoes plaguing the Tweed, coinciding with people enjoying outdoor activities over the Easter period.

"Preventing these viruses depends on avoiding mosquito bites, especially as the mosquitoes have become active after recent rain, warm temperatures and high tides," Mr Kohlenberg said.

The public have been advised to cover up as much as possible and to use an effective repellent on exposed skin when outdoors.

Make sure all windows doors, vents and other entrances are covered with insect screens, including when camping.

Light mosquito coils or vaporising mats can be used indoors, the health unit advises.



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