Mozzie swarm sparks warning on virus
- TAMARA HOWIE
- NT NEWS
- SEPTEMBER 08, 20152:00AM
IT’S time to cover up: the bloodsuckers are coming out in force.
Saltmarsh mosquito numbers are expected to surge in the next few days after recent high tides have provided perfect breeding grounds.
Director of medical entomology Nina Kurucz said a high numbers of saltmarsh mosquitoes are expected to hang around for about two weeks across Darwin and the rural area.
“We are expecting the number of mosquitoes to increase from Wednesday this week,” she said.
A 7.66m tide on August 31 followed by a 7.74m tide the following day provided fertile breeding grounds in mangrove areas.
“There’s constant breeding over the next couple of months until the monsoonal rains come,” she said.
“In Top End coastal areas, numbers are expected to be highest for up to 5km from mangrove and brackish water breeding sites, following high tides and rain from September until monsoonal rains flood their breeding sites.”
Ms Kurucz warned Territorians to cover up ahead of the influx as the saltmarsh mozzies are an aggressive variety.
“There are very aggressive biters and are active both day and night,” she said.
“If the wind direction is right they have flight range of up to 50km.”
Ms Kurucz warned that although the high-risk period of Ross River virus is still a few months away, the virus can be contracted all year around and can be transmitted by the saltmarsh mosquito.
“The main risk starts from December and becomes more serious in January and February, but we’ve already had a couple of cases in July and August,” she said.
People infected with Ross River virus may develop a wide range of symptoms, including painful and swollen joints, sore muscle, skin rash and fatigue.
Symptoms generally last for a few weeks or months but can linger for up to a year.
Ms Kurucz urged Territorians to use 20 per cent Deet or Picaridin repellent outdoors and avoid exposure by covering up with long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, socks and shoes.
A saltmarsh mosquito pest calendar is available at health.nt.gov.au/Medical_Entomology/Insect_Pest_Periods/index.aspx