Mosquitoes can carry diseases that may be passed on to people through mosquito bites. In Australia, some of these include Ross River virus, Murray Valley Encephalitis virus and dengue fever. Periods of heavy rainfall or floods can led to ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes, even in non-tropical areas. Diseases that are spread by insects are known as ‘vector-borne’ diseases.
Mosquito-borne diseases can make people ill and, in severe cases, can cause death.
How to avoid mosquito bites
There are many simple things you can do to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, including:
- Avoid outdoor activity when mosquitoes are prevalent. Dusk and dawn is when most mosquitoes are more active, but some will be around during the day.
- Wear long, loose-fitting clothes if mosquitoes are around, preferably in light colours.
- Use effective mosquito repellents on exposed skin and clothing (creams or gels containing picaridin or DEET are considered most effective) and ensure you reapply as per the product label
- Sleep under mosquito nets treated with repellents or insecticides if you don’t have flywire screens on windows.
- Outdoors, mosquito coils can be effective in small protected areas.
Control of mosquitos around the home
You can reduce the risk of mosquito bites if you get rid of potential mosquito breeding sites around your home by:
- installing flywire screens on all windows and self-closing wire screens on doors. Check them regularly and mend any holes
- preventing pools of water from forming – get rid of unused tins, tyres and similar rubbish, clean gutters and drains regularly and mend leaking taps
- changing pets’ drinking water and the water in vases, pot plants and bird baths at least once a week
- putting sand around the base of pot plants to absorb excess water in the dish
- flushing unused toilets once a week
- keeping swimming pools chlorinated or salted and empty them completely when not in use for long periods
- emptying children’s wading pools regularly
- keeping fishponds stocked with fish.
If you have a rainwater tank or alternative water storage devices:
- Make sure that any tops, lids, covers and inlet pipes are close fitting.
- Fit a removable screen mesh to the outlet end of overflow pipes and to all water inlets.
- Make sure any water collection containers have secure lids or screens
For further information visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au or contact Environmental Health Services on 1300 653 356.