Fight the bite these holidays

Friday, 28 December 2018

South Australians are urged not to forget the mosquito repellent as they head away on holidays, to prevent being bitten and the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

SA Health’s Acting Director of Health Protection, Michaela Hobby, said there is no cure and no vaccine for local mosquito-borne diseases, so the only way to protect yourself is to avoid being bitten.

“While mosquito numbers remain low in the upper sections of the River Murray, we are currently seeing high levels of mosquito activity in the Lower Lakes areas, particularly around Murray Bridge and the Coorong,” Ms Hobby said. 

“Last year there were 520 cases of the debilitating Ross River Virus, the most common mosquito-borne disease, and while numbers are lower this year at 54 cases, we shouldn’t be complacent.

“Less common mosquito‑borne diseases include West Nile Kunjin and Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE) viruses which can cause permanent impaired neurological functions and, in some cases, death.

“The last major outbreak in South Australia of Ross River and Barmah Forest virus was during the summer of 2010-11, and also resulted in two locally acquired cases of MVE, of which one was fatal.”

SA Health uses various measures to monitor mosquito disease prevalence, including routinely testing six flocks of sentinel chickens, located at strategic spots along the Murray River, for viruses spread by mosquitoes.

“Chickens are a good indicator of mosquito-borne disease risk to the community as they readily produce antibodies to viruses which can also infect humans, yet they don’t develop symptoms of those diseases,” Ms Hobby said.

“We also work with local councils who have surveillance programs to monitor the types and numbers of mosquitoes within their areas. 

“While our surveillance programs provide some information about the level of disease risk within community, the only way of preventing mosquito-borne disease is to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, so we remind all South Australians to take precautions and Fight the Bite.

“To protect against mosquito bites, people should wear long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and use a repellent which contains DEET or picaridin. We also advise to eliminate potential breeding sites around the home.”

For information on how to Fight the Bite, visit

^ Back to top