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Public health & wellbeing > Disaster management

Mosquito-borne diseases after storm, flood or cyclone

Mosquito copyright thinkstock.com.au
Receding flood waters and pooling water from heavy rainfall can provide perfect conditions for mosquito breeding. This can result in more mosquitoes, increasing the potential for outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases. The most common mosquito-borne diseases in Queensland are caused by Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses. Outbreaks of dengue have been reported annually in north Queensland. West Nile Virus Kunjin subtype disease and Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) have also rarely been reported.

Symptoms

The incubation period for mosquito-borne diseases varies. Symptoms are usually present 3-15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Common signs and symptoms are:

Most people infected with West Nile Virus Kunjin subtype and MVE viruses do not develop symptoms. However others–especially young children–may experience:

It is important to seek prompt medical assistance if symptoms are experienced.

Transmission

Mosquito-borne diseases are transmitted via bites by infected mosquitoes and cannot be transmitted directly from person-to-person. Different mosquitoes prefer to bite at different times of the day and night. It is important to be vigilant at all times and use the personal protection measures listed below to prevent being bitten.

Treatment

If diagnosed with a mosquito-borne disease it is important to prevent being bitten again by mosquitoes to ensure the disease transmission cycle does not continue. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional for advice on the most appropriate course of treatment.

Prevention

Personal protection
There are several measures that can be taken by the public to prevent mosquito-borne diseases from occurring. Personal protection measures can reduce the risk of you and your family getting bitten by mosquitoes:

Personal repellents containing DEET or picaridin are more effective than other repellents. Repellents containing picaridin are considered safe for children, however the use of topical repellents is not recommended for infants under three months of age. It is best to use physical barriers-such as nets on prams and cots-to protect infants less than three months of age. Young children should not apply repellents themselves. Repellents should be applied to the hands of a carer first, and then applied evenly to the child's exposed skin.

Around the house

An effective way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Remove debris and vegetation from storm drains and ditches. Drain areas in and around yards and workplaces where water has accumulated. Empty all containers including buckets, tyres, bird baths and palm fronds weekly to reduce mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes can breed in domestic water tanks, so checking the integrity of water tank screens and replacing damaged screens is a sound prevention measure.

Further information

Online resources:

Contacts:

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Last Updated: 14 December 2015
Last Reviewed: 28 October 2013



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