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A-Z of Public Health Topics

Mosquito-borne diseases

Mosquitoes can carry a range of diseases that can be passed on to humans when they bite. The best protection against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry is to avoid mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes in different parts of the world can carry different diseases. In Victoria, mosquitoes can carry:

  • Ross River virus 
  • Barmah Forest virus
  • Japanese encephalitis virus 
  • Murray Valley encephalitis virus 
  • West Nile (Kunjin) virus
  • Mycobacterium ulcerans (Buruli ulcer).

For more information on mosquito-borne diseases in Victoria, click here.

For more information on Japanese encephalitis virus in Victoria, including vaccines, click here.

In other parts of Australia, mosquitoes can also carry other diseases. Dengue can occasionally be found in some parts of far north Queensland.

If you are planning to travel outside of Australia, it is a good idea to visit your GP to understand what diseases mosquitoes might carry where you are going and whether other actions are needed, such as antimalarial prophylaxis. Vaccines are available for some of these diseases, such as yellow fever virus and Japanese encephalitis virus.

Please see our travel health page for further information.

No matter where you are in the world, the advice below about protecting yourself from mosquito bites applies.

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

You can protect yourself and your family by:

  • wearing long, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms, legs and feet – mosquitoes can bite through tight clothes
  • using mosquito repellents containing DEET or picaridin on exposed skin
  • staying indoors when mosquitoes are most active (often around dawn and dusk)
  • using mosquito coils, candles or lanterns in outdoor areas
  • maintaining flyscreens around your home
  • using mosquito proof tents or sleeping under a mosquito net when camping or when in areas of high risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

Don’t forget the kids – always check insect repellent labels to ensure they are child-safe and age-appropriate. You may need to spray or rub repellent on babies’ clothes instead of their skin. Avoid applying repellent to the hands of babies or young children, as they will put them in their mouth. Make sure to follow label instructions.

Mosquitoes breed in water. Regularly check around your home and empty containers filled with water. Clear your yard of any objects where stagnant water can collect, such as unused pots, buckets, blocked roof gutters and old tyres. Store these objects upside down or undercover where possible. Use mosquito-proof screens when water cannot be emptied.

You should also:

  • change your pet’s water weekly
  • keep fishponds stocked with fish, or drain if unused
  • maintain your swimming pool
  • maintain and cover your water tank.

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