THE mozzie season has started and people living in Perth and the South West are being warned to guard against the disease-carrying insects.
The WA Health Department said residents and travellers needed to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites over the coming months after the first cases of disease activity for the 2017-18 mosquito season had been reported.
Managing Scientist of Environmental Health Hazards Mike Lindsay said the department’s mosquito and virus surveillance program had detected Barmah Forest virus for the first time this season in the South West.
“The detection coincides with increases in mosquito numbers in coastal areas of the South West linked to the recent warmer spring weather,” Dr Lindsay said.
“Notifications of human cases of Ross River virus have also been relatively high over recent weeks in residents of the Perth metropolitan area, indicating that the virus is active.”
BFV is similar to RRV but generally less severe. Symptoms of both diseases include painful or swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches. Symptoms can last for weeks or months and the only way to properly diagnose the viruses is by having a specific blood test.
The department said there was no cure for RRV or BFV so it was important that people took care to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. In south-west WA, including the Perth metropolitan area, the viruses were generally most active in late spring and summer.
Dr Lindsay said mosquito management was being undertaken by local government authorities, in collaboration with the department, in areas with a recognised risk of RRV and BFV infection.
“However, it is not realistic to rely on mosquito management programs alone to control mosquitoes, and individuals living in or travelling to the region also need to take their own precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” he said.
People are advised to avoid outdoor exposure particularly around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and wear protective clothing when outdoors.