Summer Rains Spark Mosquito Infestation
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Perth’s wettest summer on record has sparked fears of a mosquito boom, with the insects thriving in the moist conditions.
Areas located close to water are most at risk.
The WA Department of Health is warning people to be vigilant, with increased reports of Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest in the first two months of the year.
More than 222 people have already been affected in 2017, and these numbers are expected to rise.
According to the Department’s online mosquito management advice, there are almost 100 species of mosquitoes in the State, and many transmit disease.
Late last year, former WA Health Minister, John Day, launched Fight the Bite – a campaign to raise awareness of the need for mosquito management, with particular focus on the Peel Region.
“It’s a case of West Aussies versus mozzies this summer, with recent rains, forecast rapidly rising temperatures and higher than usual tidal activity creating a ‘perfect storm’ of ideal breeding conditions,” said Mr Day.
“In previous years, more than 1,000 people have been infected in Western Australia with mosquito-borne diseases, for which there are no vaccines or cures.”
He said viruses such as Ross River and Barmah Forest “can be physically, mentally and financially debilitating.”
Those two viruses are the most common mosquito-borne diseases in Australia, known to cause severe side effects including aches, headaches, fatigue, chills and fevers.
While some people diagnosed with Ross River Virus have suffered symptoms over about 10 days, others battled the illness for months or years.
Up to 287 cases of Ross River Virus were recorded in WA in 2015 and 3552 cases in 2016, Australia wide.
There has even been recorded deaths from mosquito bites in WA’s North-West in areas such as the Kimberly, wtih high temperatures and long wet seasons.
In addition to the “Fight the Bite” campaign, the State Government has funded additional mosquito management programs and research over four years.
It is hoped the $4 million investment will see a reduction in the number of people infected with mosquito-borne diseases.
Local councils are also funding programs to combat mosquito infestations.
The Town of Bassendean is working with surrounding councils to capture and control mosquitos before they breed.
There is currently no vaccine for mosquito spread viruses so people are encouraged to take precautions to avoid being bitten.
Strategies include wearing repellent, avoiding leaving stagnant water around the home and covering up with clothing-especially at dusk when mosquitos are most active.