Mosquito virus warning

People in the Northern Rivers are being warned that nasty, debilitating illnesses caused by mosquito bites are on the rise.

North Coast Area Health Service Public Health Unit director Paul Corben says Barmah Forest Virus infections have doubled over the last five years, while Ross River Fever infections are up by 20 per cent.

Both viruses produce similar symptoms about a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito, although the Barmah Forest Virus is usually less severe.

Victims feel generally unwell, with a fever, painful and sometimes swollen joints and a rash that may appear on the body and limbs, Mr Corben said. People with Barmah Forest Virus may experience a butterfly pattern rash that spreads to the rest of the body.

Mr Corben said there was no specific treatment for either virus, but people who thought they were affected should go to their doctor for a blood test to confirm the infection.

The only way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, Mr Corben said. Use an insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin as active ingredients. Use mosquito coils or vapourising mats and ensure mosquito screens on living and sleeping areas are in good condition.

Mr Corben also recommended people wear long, loose-fitting light-coloured clothing when outdoors, especially at dusk and dawn.


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