Locals are being urged to beat the bite this summer, after health authorities detected a number of cases of mosquito-borne viruses in northern Victoria, including a record 23 cases of Ross River fever in Benalla.
The Victorian Government’s chief health officer Professor Charles Guest issued a warning to health professionals and the Victorian community to be aware of mosquitoes in the summer season while people were predominantly outdoors and protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases, such as Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and Murray Valley encephalitis.
Ross River virus has now been detected in mosquitoes around Mildura and Moira/Barmah Forest areas, giving an early indication of increased risk of human disease for summer and early autumn.
Professor Charles Guest said about 314 people had been diagnosed with Ross River virus in Victoria during the year to December 29 — a nearly 50 per cent jump from the previous year.
And this was likely an under-estimate because some people may not be diagnosed, with their case not reported to the health department, he said.
The best protection from these diseases is to avoid mosquito bites — protective measures include regularly using mosquito repellent containing picaridin or DEET, wearing loose fitting clothing when outside and ensuring accommodation is mosquito proof.
These diseases can cause serious illness and occur regularly in regional Victoria.
Murray Valley encephalitis is rare, but in a small percentage of infected persons it can cause serious illness including meningitis or encephalitis.
●For more information, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/campaigns/beat-the-bite