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Barmah Forest virus detection

NSW Health is encouraging residents in the northern beaches area to protect themselves against mosquitoes following the detection of Barmah Forest virus at Narrabeen Lagoon.

The NSW Arbovirus Surveillance and Mosquito Monitoring Program recently detected the virus in mosquitoes trapped at Deep Creek.

“These infections can cause symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints,” Dr Michael Staff, Director, Northern Sydney Local Health District Public Health Unit said.

“The symptoms usually resolve after several days, but some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months.”

Avoiding mosquito bites will be especially important until cooler weather brings an end to the mosquito-breeding season.

“Mosquitoes are very active in the early and late parts of the day so you need to make sure you protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes at these times,” Dr Staff said.

Simple steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes include:

Cover up as much as possible when outside with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.

Use an effective insect repellent on exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off with perspiration. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin. Botanical based products (e.g. eucalyptus, citronella etc.) provide only limited periods of protection.

Use physical barriers such as netting on prams, cots and play areas for babies. Repellents should not be used on the skin of children under the age of three months.

Check the product label of repellents for recommended age of use. Most skin repellents are safe to use for children over the age of 3 months or older. Some formulations are only suitable for children over 12 months.

Use insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units (indoors) and mosquito coils (outdoors) to clear rooms or repel mosquitoes from an area.

Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.

Remove and prevent mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as emptying containers that hold water.

Preventing infection with these viruses depends on avoiding mosquito bites, especially as the mosquitoes have become active after recent rain, warm days and high tides.
Dr Michael Staff, Director of the Northern Sydney Public Health Unit

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