Dengue fever warning issued following heavy rain

HEALTH

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MOSQUITO SAVVY: DART team manager Joe Davis and Acting Director, Tropical Public Health Services, Dr Madhumati Chatterji. Image: Supplied.
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As the wet season progresses, health authorities are urging residents of the Far North to be on the lookout for symptoms of dengue fever.

According to Tropical Public Health Services, there have been three locally-acquired cases of dengue fever this year and 16 imported cases.

The imported cases largely involved Far North Queensland residents returning from countries in South East Asia, including Thailand and the Philippines.

The Acting Director of Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns), Dr Madhumati Chatterji said the local cases were in a small area and other outbreaks have been prevented thanks to the world mosquito program.

“Fortunately, we have seen no locally-acquired dengue in areas such as Cairns, Innisfail and Port Douglas this year, thanks to the World Mosquito Program,” she said. 

“The program began releasing mosquitoes several years ago that are infected with bacteria that stops them spreading the virus.”

The Dengue Action Response Team (DART) is active throughout the year, spraying to control mosquitoes, particularly at the air and sea ports, as well as monitoring mosquito numbers.

Joe Davis, Manager of Entomology for DART said there may be an increase in mosquito numbers following the recent heavy rainfalls.

“The recent rain associated with ex-Tropical Cyclone Owen is likely to see mosquito numbers increase,” he said.

“It’s important for people to make sure any potential mosquito breeding sites, such as pot plant bases and tyres, are removed from homes and workplaces, as it is much easier to prevent breeding sites from developing than it is to eradicate them once they are established.” 

Dr Chatterji urged everyone to take simple steps to avpid being bitten by mosquitos to protect themselves from dengue and other mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika and chikungunya.

“It is important to use indoor surface spray around the house to kill and repel mosquitoes and you can protect yourself and your family further by using personal insect repellent,” she said.

Dengue fever causes fever with severe headaches, muscle and joint pains, and other symptoms may include a rash, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Anyone with dengue like symptoms should see a doctor immediately to be tested for dengue.

 

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