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Mosquito-borne diseases

Don’t wing it: protect yourself from mosquitoes this summer

Mosquitoes can carry a range of diseases that can be life-threatening. Your best protection against mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry is to avoid mozzie bites. 

Warm and wet weather can mean more mosquito biting and breeding, including the ones that can carry diseases that make you sick. Recent flood events across Victoria have increased the number of mosquitoes in many regions.  

Mosquitoes can carry diseases that may be passed on to people, including:  

  • Ross River virus  
  • Barmah Forest virus 
  • Japanese encephalitis virus  
  • Murray Valley encephalitis virus  
  • Buruli ulcer. 

Mosquito-borne diseases can make people ill and, in severe cases, can cause death.  

Recently Barmah Forest, Ross River and Murray Valley encephalitis viruses have been detected in various parts of Victoria including northern Victoria along the Murray River, north-western Victoria or southern New South Wales.  

There is no vaccine currently available to protect against Ross River, Barmah Forest or Murray Valley encephalitis viruses. There is a vaccine available to protect against Japanese encephalitis for eligible groups.  

The most effective way to reduce your risk of mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid mosquito bites and remove mosquito breeding sites around your home.  

There are simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family against these diseases:  

  • Wear long, loose-fitting clothing. Mozzies can bite through tight clothes.  
  • Use mosquito repellents containing Picaridin or DEET on exposed skin.  
  • Limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about. 
  • Clean up your yard and remove anything where water can collect, such as unused pots and tyres.  
  • On holidays make sure your accommodation is fitted with mosquito netting or screens. 
  • Use ’knockdown’ fly spray, mosquito coils or plug-in repellent where you gather to sit or eat outdoors. 
  • Don’t forget the kids – always check the insect repellent label. On babies, you might need to spray or rub repellent on their clothes instead of their skin. Avoid applying repellent to the hands of babies or young children. 

Additional information is available on the Better Health Channel:  

Checklist for your home and yard  

Checklist for your holiday