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Ross River Virus a real threat

More than 380 Queenslanders have contracted the potentially debilitating mosquito-borne virus Ross River Virus (RRV) so far this year following recent heavy rains and high tides.

Queensland Health Communicable Diseases Senior Medical Officer Dr Heidi Carroll said for the same period last year, there were just 120 cases reported.    

"The significant increase in RRV cases has been predominantly  across the southern part of Queensland  and it’s imperative that people protect themselves," Dr Carroll said.

"RRV is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes and causes fatigue, fever, skin rash and joint pain which can be very debilitating."

Dr Carroll said with more Queenslanders getting outside to enjoy the finer weather, prevention was the key to avoiding mosquito bites and consequently, mosquito borne diseases.

"Using a suitable insect repellent when heading outdoors is always a good way to prevent mosquito bites.

"Choose a repellent that contains DEET or picaridin and always apply insect repellent according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and wear loose-fitting, light coloured clothing to avoid bites.

"Also use plug-in mosquito insecticide vaporisers and mosquito coils and lanterns where appropriate and avoid outdoor activity at dawn and dusk.

"Metro North Hospital and Health Service Medical Entomologist Dr Cassie Jansen said local Councils across Queensland were working hard to manage mosquito numbers.

"Councils can only work on public land so residents need to play their part in controlling mosquitoes by taking simple steps around the home to protect themselves and their family," Dr Jansen said.

"Checking the condition of screens on windows and doors and on rainwater tanks is a great place to start. Ensure screens around your home are in good condition.

"Make sure you empty water regularly from containers such as pot plant saucers and pet water bowls.  Remember even small pools of water found in boats, wheelbarrows or on tarpaulins left outside can breed mosquitoes.

"It’s always a good idea to clean up yards regularly and throw out any rubbish lying around that can hold water.

"Inspect your water tank, roof gutters and any other structures or large containers that may hold water for signs of mosquitoes and keep swimming pools clean and chlorinated."

For more information go to www.health.qld.gov.au/mozziediseases

Last updated: 10 February 2015