2023-02-22 17:36:52 By : Ms. jenny wu

Mosquito-borne disease worry as floods puts country on high alert for new viruses

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Health authorities are warning locals to vaccinate early against Japanese encephalitis and cover up as mosquito populations expand across western NSW.

A group of leading health professionals from across the country have met in Dubbo to discuss how they can better manage mosquito populations and help protect the community from both insect bites and the pathogens spread by mosquitoes.

University of Sydney Associate professor  Cameron Webb said in the early stages of the mosquito season continuous flooding was a concern.

Although Japanese encephalitis is the most concerning mosquito-borne virus this summer, Mr Webb said there were many new variants, and new breeds of mosquitoes as well.

"We're seeing a really diverse range of mosquitoes that are coming out of these floodwaters," he said.

"However, when it comes to mosquito-borne disease, the mosquito we're most concerned about is a species called culex.

"It's a mosquito that will bite us and animals and plays an important role in spreading these pathogens that make us sick."

Residents are being urged to remain vigilant coming into summer.

"If you're outdoors, particularly at dawn and dusk, cover up as best you can with long-sleeved shirts, long pants and covered shoes," Mr Webb said.

Mr Webb said people who were eligible for the Japanese encephalitis vaccine should definitely be taking advantage of it.

"Consult the New South Wales Health website or talk to your local GP, they'll be able to provide you some more information about your eligibility and how you can access that vaccine," he said.

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