Australians are lucky enough to enjoy some of the most pleasant summers in the world. But for many communities, they come with a serious downside: mosquito outbreaks. This year the mozzies will be coming in larger numbers – and earlier than expected.
Experts have warned that mosquito outbreaks could be worse than usual this summer across South-East Queensland, Victoria, NSW and South Australia.
News.com.au reports that recent heavy rains and flooding are to blame for new public health concerns. Flood-affected Victorian areas are particularly at risk, with many communities introducing major mosquito risk management plans.
The health risks of mosquito outbreaks are well known, from Ross River and Dengue Fever to the devastating Murray Valley encephalitis, which kills one quarter of those who contract it.
The Department of Health says risks of these new mosquitos carrying Murray Valley encephalitis are low (the last recorded case was in 1974). However, the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses remain significant concerns.
“We are starting our efforts to control mosquitoes early this year as heavy rain has provided perfect breeding conditions,” said Victoria’s chief health officer Charles Guest.
“There are simple and inexpensive steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
The Victoria Department of Health advises long, loose-fitting outfits rather than tight clothing, which can prevent mosquitos biting through to the skin.
It’s also vital to avoid unnecessary water puddles in the backyard – taking away the biggest potential mosquito breeding ground.
The department also advises installing flywire screens if you don’t already have them in place.
South Australia and Queensland experts have advised similar caution.
Pat Dale, a mosquito management expert at Griffith University, recently advised Nine News viewers to using repellants with DEET or diethyltoluamide, rather than citronella candles, which are only affected in the short-term.
What’s the worst mozzie outbreak you’ve experienced? Have you taken steps against the health risks coming this summer?