Mosquito viruses on the rise, likely caused by recent flooding and warm weather

VIRUS:  Recent  high winter rainfall, flooding and warmer temperatures are contributing factors driving  regional arbovirus activity.

VIRUS: Recent high winter rainfall, flooding and warmer temperatures are contributing factors driving regional arbovirus activity.

RECENT flooding and warmer weather has been linked to increased mosquito numbers and the associated alarming viruses that have been detected in the Riverina.

Last Tuesday, a warning was issued after mosquitoes in the region tested positive for the arbovirus isolates of Barmah Forest Virus and Ross River Virus.

The recent detection was a result of Griffith City Council’s monitoring and surveillance program, which involves mosquito trappings during the warmer months throughout Griffith and surrounds.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District public health director Tracey Oakman said while the viruses are not uncommon for the area the recent detection has come earlier than anticipated at an increased level.

"We don't often see the viruses in mozzies this early, we generally detect them later in the summer,” Ms Oakman said.

"We are seeing increased numbers of mosquitoes, significantly more than this time last year and they are carrying the viruses and that comes at a risk to humans.”

Ms Oakman said identifying the exact breeding ground of the mosquitoes harbouring the viruses was unlikely, but increased levels of stagnant water had provided ideal breeding grounds for the pest.

“Stagnant water is a prime breeding area for mosquitoes and so where there is stagnant water, there are likely higher number of mosquitoes,” she said. 

“This is what we are seeing as a result of the recent flooding and warm weather. Any still water, but stagnant water in particular, will have contributed to the breeding grounds of the mozzies.”

Ms Oakman said prevention was key and residents should avoid being bitten to protect themselves from the arboviruses.

Symptoms of the viruses include high temperature, headache and muscle pain, joint swelling and aching, stiffness, pain, chills, rashes and generally feeling unwell, tired or weak.

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