South-east Queenslanders are being urged to take precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses in the wake of severe weather and the detection of Japanese encephalitis virus.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath today warned that recent rainfall and flooding between the Gold Coast and Wide Bay meant people were at greater risk of contracting illnesses from mosquitoes.
“Mosquitoes carry multiple and potentially dangerous illnesses, and people in rain-affected areas are particularly vulnerable right now given these conditions are ripe for mosquito activity,” the Minister said.
“Some of the most common mosquito-borne illnesses are Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and malaria, though these are only some of what can be spread by a mosquito bite.
“Recently, Japanese encephalitis virus was detected in samples taken from a commercial piggery in southern Queensland. There have also been detections in piggeries in New South Wales and Victoria.
“Disease caused by the virus occurs most commonly in pigs and horses but can be transmitted to humans from mosquito bites.
“Most people infected with the virus are asymptomatic, but it can cause fever, headaches, rashes and – in severe cases – serious neurological illness including convulsions.
“An expected rise in mosquito activity in south-east Queensland means there may be a higher chance of the virus being transmitted now, so people must protect themselves.”
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said people could take simple but effective steps to minimise the risk of mosquito bites.
“Applying insect repellent, wearing loose clothes to cover arms and legs and wearing closed-in shoes can significantly increase protection against mosquito bites,” he said.
“This is critical for people who may need to clean-up in and around their properties affected by recent rainfall and flooding because standing water allows mosquitoes to breed in large numbers.
“If it is safe to do so, people can reduce potential breeding sites by removing any standing pools of water around their house and yard, including clearing debris from ditches and filling in holes and vehicle wheel ruts.
“Most mosquito bites will result in no issues or symptoms, but it is important people speak with their doctor if they experience body aches, diarrhoea, headaches, fever, feelings of nausea, or any other notable symptoms.”