News

Biting insect and mosquito-borne disease risk increase

16 February 2017

The Department of Health is warning residents and travellers to take precautions against biting insects following the widespread rainfall and recent flooding events across Western Australia.

Mosquito on a person's arm

Managing Scientist Environmental Health Hazards, Dr Michael Lindsay said the wet weather and flooding had created ideal conditions for breeding of mosquitoes and other biting insects across much of WA.

“Increased mosquito activity is likely to result in an increased risk of the mosquito-borne diseases Ross River virus (RRV), Barmah Forest virus (BFV), Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) and Kunjin virus (KUNV) in some parts of WA.”

Symptoms of infection with RRV and BFV include painful or swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches.

People living or travelling throughout Western Australia do not need to change their travel plans but should take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and flies, including:

  • avoiding outdoor exposure particularly around dawn and dusk (and the first few hours after dark)
  • wearing protective (long, loose-fitting, light coloured) clothing when outdoors
  • applying a personal repellent containing 20 per cent diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin to exposed skin or clothing.

The recent rainfall is also a timely reminder for residents to minimise mosquito breeding around the home by taking some simple steps to remove or modify breeding sites such as:

  • disposing of all containers which hold water
  • keeping swimming pools well chlorinated, filtered and free of dead leaves
  • emptying and cleaning animal and pet drinking water bowls once a week

View further information to help prevent mosquito bites around your home.