The all too familiar sound of sausages sizzling on the ‘barbie’, the hiss of beer being opened and the slap of mozzies being squashed will soon be upon us.
Aside from leaving an uncomfortable, itchy welt, I urge you to prevent mozzie bites altogether. Ross River (RRV) and Barmah Forest (BFV) virus are the two most common mosquito-borne viruses in the South West.
Symptoms include: painful and/or swollen joints (typically wrists, knees, ankles, fingers, elbows, shoulders and jaw), sore muscles, aching tendons, skin rashes, fever, tiredness, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes.
‘But I used repellents like citronella, eucalyptus and melaleuca oil,’ said a patient of mine who became very sick with RRV last year.
The most effective repellents contain either diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picardin. Natural products work, but only for a very short time and you have to reapply four times as frequently. DEET switches off the mosquitoes’ desire to ingest blood.
‘Ross River! But I eat lots of bananas,’ said another patient.
To date there is no scientific evidence to prove foods containing vitamin B repel mozzies. The best protection is DEET based repellents along with insect-proofing your home and avoid being outside at dawn and dusk. Otherwise, cover up with long, loose-fitting light coloured clothing. Mozzies can bite through fitted clothing, even denim jeans.
From September until May, treat every mozzie as if it is a carrier of RRV or BFV.
Dr Kin Lee
(For more facts visit the WA Health Department website)