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Take precautions to avoid mossie bites

2 November 2018

Torres Strait residents should take all possible precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes this approaching wet season, health authorities say.

Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns) Director Dr Richard Gair said while mosquitoes were active all year round, they tended to be far more prevalent in wet season conditions between November and April.

“However, our advice to local communities remains the same no matter the time of year,’’ he said.

“The very best protection against mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, Ross River, Barmah Forest virus or others, is to avoid being bitten in the first place.

“Mosquito control and public education campaigns can only do so much.

“Torres Strait residents also need to do their part and take action to eliminate mosquito breeding sites on their properties and to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially young children and babies.

“People should protect themselves by using mosquito repellent.

“On Thursday, Horn and Boigu islands, where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is more common, they should also use long-acting ‘surface’ or ‘cockroach’ insecticide spray in places in and around their house where mosquitoes can hide. This should be done monthly.

“But indoor spraying is NOT effective on other islands of the Torres Strait where the Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger) mosquito is more common.

“The difference between the two mosquitoes is that Aedes albopictus like to live outside– which is why indoor spraying is less effective against albopictus – whereas the Aedes aegypti likes to live and feed inside.’’

Other personal protective measures that are effective against both types of mosquitoes include:

  • Install insect screens that are in good working order in your home and office. If not, sleep under a mosquito net day and night.
  • Tip it, store it, throw it — tip out water from containers weekly, or dry store containers under cover and discard rubbish properly. Mosquitoes breed in containers that hold water. Remember, under the Public Health Act 2005, you can be fined by your local council if your home or yard promotes the breeding of mosquitoes.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing, (long-sleeved shirts and long pants wherever possible to cover exposed skin), and use personal insect repellent containing DEET (di-ethyltoluamide) or Picaridin. DEET and Picaridin are safe for use by pregnant women. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions. Repellents usually only protect against mosquito bites for up to four hours.
  • Use other mosquito protection devices such as electric zappers and mosquito coils.

“If you follow these simple instructions, you can minimise substantially the risk of being bitten and infected with a mosquito-borne virus,’’ Dr Gair said.

Last updated: 9 November 2018