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'Worst ever' mosquito season expected after increase in virus detections



An increase in mosquito-borne viruses has been detected in South Australia, prompting a warning from health authorities to take precautions across the state, especially along the river murray.

There are five mosquito-borne viruses currently active in the state, including the most common Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus as well as Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and West Nile Virus.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said a combination of weather elements, and the introduction of Japanese encephalitis last year, could create the "worst season" the state has ever had.

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Spurrier said they had seen an increase the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses in their mosquito detection trappings.

"We have the water, the flooding, the cold spring, wet spring and now a hot summer, we are seeing those mosquito populations really booming.

"We have now had 28 detects and previously, for the whole of last season, we only had three detects."

She said they were starting to see more people with the two most common viruses.

How to prevent being bitten

The government is pushing South Australians, especially those in the Riverland, to protect themselves from being bitten by covering up and using mosquito repellent, containing DEET or a lemon eucalyptus oil, on any uncovered areas.

"Don't just dab it on like you're using cologne, you have to cover all of your exposed skin's surfaces," Spurrier said.

"It's like sunblock, if you leave an area the mosquito will come and bite you there because you haven't covered up the smell of the skin."

She also suggested removing any excess water from around the house, using mosquito coils and replacing mosquito screens with holes.

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What are the symptoms?

Spurrier said virus symptoms include a fever, headaches, fatigue, muscles aches, joint pains and a rash.

Encephalitis symptoms include a "very serious" inflammation of the brain.

"You might start to get a bit confused, have a neck stiffness and that can lead to a coma and unfortunately we do see some people dying."

Vaccinations for Japanese encephalitis after available for free for those who live or holiday near the river.

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