Western NSW Local Health District is warning people in the Forbes area to take care against mosquito-borne viruses following recent heavy rains and associated flooding.
The increase in rain and flooding will result in an increase in mosquito breeding, particularly where there is pooled water.
Whilst being bitten is irritating, mosquitoes can carry disease such as Ross River, Barmah Forest Fever and Murray Valley Encephalitis.
Priscilla Stanley, Coordinator of Communicable Disease in the Western Health District advises the community to be aware.
“The incubation period is from three to 21 days.
“If people start feeling unwell they should head straight to the GP and let them know they have been bitten by a mosquito,” she said.
Despite some larger than normal mosquitoes lingering around town, they are no more of a threat than the average-sized insects.
“There are lots of different types of mosquitoes, the size doesn’t really matter.
“It depends on what breed and whether they have the capacity to carry disease,” she said.
“Given the issues with flooding in Forbes, Western NSW Health issued a warning about potential water-borne diseases from stagnant water laying around town.”
These infections can cause symptoms ranging from tiredness, rash, fever, and sore or swollen joints.
Symptoms usually resolve within several days but some people may experience symptoms for weeks or even months.
Infection with Murray Valley Encephalitis can cause more severe symptoms such as encephalitis.
At this point in time, there has been no increase in the number of reported cases of Ross River Virus.
It is however important that care is taken in areas that have been affected by flooding.
This includes areas around Forbes, Condobolin and other areas that have recently been inundated by heavy rain or flood waters.
It is important to note that transmission of these water-borne viruses are not via human to human transmission.
Infection is only possible via mosquito to human and one person cannot pass it onto another.
Dr Thérèse Jones from the Western NSW Local Health District Public Health Unit advises residents and visitors to take preventative action to avoid being bitten.
Dr Jones suggests people should protect themselves by:
· Screening all windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside;
· If you live in an unscreened house or are camping, sleep under a mosquito net;
· Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. If going outside at these times, take precautions such as using a repellent and/or wearing a loose fitting long sleeved shirt and trousers. If you find the repellent you are using does not work, try an alternative preferably containing DEET;
· When mosquitoes are present inside the room, use spray, especially behind furniture and dark places;
· Air conditioning, fans and mosquito coils are also effective in protecting yourself from mosquitoes;
· If you have a septic tank on your property and it was inundated with flood water, you will need to have it professionally pumped out;
· Ensure there are no containers around your property that trap water;
· Ensure mesh is in place on septic vents.
If you would like more information, please contact your local Environmental Health Officer or the Western NSW Public Health Unit (Dubbo Office (02) 6809 8967, Bathurst Office (02) 6330 5945 and Broken Hill Office (08) 8080 1504).