Campers prepare for Big Itch

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It’s mozzie misery season in the south and grey nomads are being warned to cover up.

While it’s bad enough when the buzzing intruders spoil what could have been a pleasant evening around the campfire or sitting under the awning, they can of course do a lot worse.

There has been a substantial spike in mosquito-borne diseases of late and it is important to understand the health risks of mosquito bites and how to protect against them.

In South Australia alone 1164 cases of Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and Murray Valley encephalitis were reported from last December to May …. a fivefold increase on the same period the previous season. Since October 1, SA Health has already reported 32 cases of Ross River and 13 cases of Barmah Forest virus.

It’s a similar story in the south of Western Australia where authorities are battling high insect numbers after a warm, wet winter.

Mandurah, Capel and Busselton shires have reportedly resorted to using helicopters to spray the region with larvicide in a bid to reduce mosquito numbers ahead of the holiday season.

The West Australian newspaper reports that the number of mozzies caught in university monitoring’ traps between Rockingham and Busselton has trebled in some areas when compared to last year.

On a brighter note, the Department of Agriculture and Food says recent unseasonal rainfall across large parts of southern WA may actually reduce bush fly numbers – which often torment grey nomads and others – as flies do not reproduce well in wet dung.

South Australia has launched a ‘Fight the Bite’ campaign and it urges everybody to cover up, repel mosquitoes and eliminate potential breeding sites where possible.

The state’s health authorities say wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing that protects as much of the body as possible is an effective ant-mozzie weapon. Similarly, it says repellents containing DEET or Picaridin work well.

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