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Protect yourself from mosquito-borne disease

Fight the bite page header

We all know mosquitoes can be a nuisance, but some can spread serious diseases when they bite.

The most common disease spread by mosquitoes in South Australia is Ross River virus, followed by Barmah Forest virus.

There is currently no cure and no vaccine for either virus.

The only way to protect yourself and your family is to avoid being bitten:

Cover up, repel, eliminate

Cover up

Wear long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing, covering as much of the body as you can. Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing like jeans.

Repel with repellent

  • When outdoors, apply insect repellent containing DEET (diethyl toluamide) or picaridin and always follow instructions on the label.
  • Mosquito coils can help protect from mosquitoes when outside but always follow instructions on the label.

Eliminate with household protection

Simple changes around the home can help to reduce or eliminate mosquitoes.

Stop mosquitoes coming indoors

  • Place mosquito-proof mesh on doors and windows.
  • Cover your sleeping areas with mosquito nets if you don’t have insect screens.
  • Aerosol knockdown or surface insect sprays can help control mosquitoes inside the home but always follow instructions on the label.

Stop mosquitoes breeding

Mosquitoes breed in still water, fresh or salty, and often in puddles and containers.

  • Cover rainwater tanks, septic tank openings, wells or other large water containers with mosquito- proof mesh.
  • Maintain roof gutters and remove leaves and debris so that pools of water do not form.
  • Keep edges of dams clear of vegetation.
  • Empty and refill bird baths, stock troughs and pets’ drinking water containers at least once a week.
  • Maintain and disinfect swimming pools.
  • Empty wading pools at the end of each day.
  • Ornamental ponds, unused swimming pools or other water bodies should be either emptied or stocked with small Australian native fish to eat any mosquito larvae ('wrigglers').

Water conservation, collection or storage

Mosquitoes can also breed in containers or tanks used to store stormwater, greywater and rainwater.

  • Containers should be emptied, fitted with a well sealing lid, or openings covered with mosquito-proof mesh.
  • If mosquito larvae ('wrigglers') are present then screen or close-off the point of entry.
  • Do not allow water to pool in containers below the outlets or taps.

As a last resort, rainwater tanks can be treated by adding a small amount of liquid paraffin or domestic kerosene. Do not apply kerosene if water levels are low.

Add 5ml of kerosene or one teaspoon for a 1 kiloliter tank – up to 15ml or 3 teaspoons for a 10 kiloliter tank. When using paraffin, double the dose.

Consult your rainwater tank manufacturer about whether kerosene can be used. Commercial or industrial kerosenes, such as power kerosene for tractors,

Protect your baby or toddler from mosquito bites

  • Dress them in long, light coloured, loose fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs.
  • Use mosquito-proof mesh on doors and windows so mosquitoes can’t come inside.
  • When outdoors use mosquito-proof netting over prams and strollers.

Mosquito repellents

  • Under 2 months of age - repellents are not recommended.
  • From 2 months of age onwards - repellents containing 10% DEET can be used.
  • From 12 months of age - repellents containing picaradin can be used.
  • From 3 years of age - repellents containing PMD (p-Menthane-3, 8-diol, the active ingredient in oil of lemon eucalyptus) can be used.

Caution

  • Do not allow children to apply repellents.
  • Avoid applying repellents to hands or near their eyes or mouth.
  • If repellent is applied, wash the child’s skin and clothes when you go back inside.
  • Always read and follow the instructions on the label, especially for babies and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

In summer we love holidaying and being outside but it’s also when mosquitoes breed and bite. So, before you travel always plan, prepare and pack.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites on holiday

In Australia

Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses can occur in other parts of Australia too. There are also a number of other mosquito-borne diseases that are serious and may be fatal like Murray Valley encephalitis, Kunjin virus and dengue fever.

Overseas

In some countries, serious and sometimes fatal diseases such as chikungunya, malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever are common.

Seek a doctor's advice about:

  • How to prevent malaria before you travel. This may include taking specific medicines.
  • Vaccinations for yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis if there is a risk from these diseases.

Plan. Prepare. Pack.

  • Research where you're going and any common health risks.
  • At least eight weeks prior to leaving speak with your regular doctor or travel medicine about where you’re going, and how to protect yourself.
  • Pack enough loose fitting, light coloured clothes, insect repellent, and if you need it, a mosquito net.

More information

For more information, see the following:

Protect your holiday houses, shacks, boats, caravans and tents

  • Mosquitoes breed in still water, fresh or salty, and often in puddles and containers.

  • Look for and reduce mosquito breeding sites around your holiday house, shack and caravan or camping ground by emptying or covering anything that holds water.
  • Make sure windows and openings are fitted with mosquito-proof mesh. Cover your sleeping areas or beds with mosquito nets if you don’t have insect screens, or if you’re camping outdoors near a creek, water hole, swamp, river or in long grass.
  • Boats, canoes and dinghies should be stored so they don’t hold water.

Other safe guards

Mosquito coils can help protect from mosquitoes when outside but always follow instructions on the label.

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