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Disease alert as mosquito season due to be severe

Posted by Daniel Mercer - The West Australian on October 17, 2016, 12:20 am on

WA doctors have warned the impending mosquito season in Perth and the South West could be one of the worst in years amid fears people are becoming complacent about the risks the insects pose.

Andrew Miller, the Australian Medical Association’s WA president, said health experts were facing an increasingly difficult fight getting individuals and the public at large to recognise the threat of mosquitoes locally.

The comments come after the Health Department recently warned those in the State’s southern half to brace for an unusually bad mosquito season and the heightened risk of disease after a wet winter.

Ian Munro Sr does battle with mosquitoes as experts warn of the insects’ disease risks. Picture: Ian Munro

Dr Miller agreed “it is going to be a bad one” and said he was worried that a lack of awareness would compound the threat of mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River Virus being transmitted.

According to Dr Miller, while the risks were generally higher in low-lying areas around water they existed “regardless of whether you live in a western suburbs postcode”.

He lamented what he said was a common misconception that people only needed to worry about mosquitoes when they were overseas.

“Mosquitoes are not just dangerous in Bali and third world counties — mosquitoes are dangerous here as well,” Dr Miller said.

“People think it’s all gone away and you don’t have to worry about it any more and that’s some of the problem we get with vaccination rates. It’s the same with mosquitoes.

“Our parents were very aware of the need to not have an old bin sitting out the back with the lid off it and half full of water.

“But kids these days don’t realise that.”

The Health Department issued its warning while noting the late and “substantial” rain along with warming temperatures and higher-than-normal tides would elevate the risk of mosquitoes further.

The department said the prospect of higher-than-normal tides this spring could exacerbate the risks associated with increased mosquito numbers because they would push breeding grounds inland during the warmer months.

As part of the department’s Fight the Bite campaign, Dr Lindsay urged people to take their own precautions, warning it was not realistic to expect the State and local governments to completely safeguard them.

They could do this by wearing long sleeves, avoiding mosquito-prone areas at dawn and either side of dusk and using a personal repellent containing diethyltoluamide or picaridin on exposed skin.

The West Australian

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