Residents are being warned to clean up water-holding containers and mosquito breeding sites around the home following the first detection of Barmah Forest virus, a similar illness to Ross River virus, in the South West.
Department of Health acting medical entomologist Peter Neville said the Department’s mosquito and arbovirus surveillance program, undertaken by the University of WA, had detected the virus for the first time this season at monitoring sites in the Geographe region.
“Symptoms of RRV and BFV infections include painful and swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches, which can last from weeks to months,” Dr Neville said.
“A blood test is necessary to diagnose the infection, and there are no cures or vaccines for the disease. Therefore, it is very important that people take care not to be bitten by mosquitoes.”
People living near tidal saltmarshes and seasonal brackish and freshwater wetlands in other coastal areas were also likely to be at risk of mosquito-borne diseases in coming months, Dr Neville said.
City of Busselton environmental health co-ordinator Tanya Gillett said while mosquito numbers were expected to be less this year based on predicted weather conditions, the alert reinforced the need to be “vigilant” with precautions and protective clothing.
She said the City conducted an annual control program which targets specific areas through aerial and hand treatment larviciding but residents could help reduce “mosquito proliferation by ensuring their own backyards do not breed mosquitoes”.
Steps include disposing of containers and filling depressions in the ground which can hold water, keeping swimming pools well chlorinated and clear of leaves and screening rainwater tanks and vent pipes on septic tank systems with insect proof mesh or covers.Residents are also advised to stock ornamental ponds with fish, ensure guttering does not hold water and empty pot plant drip trays and pet water bowls weekly.
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