WARNING: One bite could have fatal consequences this Easter
IF YOU thought the long Easter weekend would be a great time to enjoy the region's natural environment, think again.
Public Health experts across North Queensland are warning potential holiday makers to be wary of bush mosquitoes after Cyclone Debbie could have increased population numbers.
Bush mosquitoes can spread a range of diseases including Ross River and Barmah Forest virus, Kunjin and the more serious Murray Valley Encephalitis.
Across the Mackay, Townsville and Cairns Public Health Unit areas, there have been 23 cases of Barmah Forest virus and 122 cases of Ross River virus.
While there have been no cases of Murray Valley Encephalitis, Public Health physician Dr Steven Donohue said this was a potentially fatal illness.
"While Murray Valley encephalitis is extremely rare, the illness is severe and given the high numbers of bush mosquitoes we are seeing across the region I'd urge everyone to take sensible precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” Dr Donohue said.
"Initial symptoms of MVE include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea and dizziness and people experiencing these symptoms should seek medical advice quickly.
"In severe cases, people may experience fits, lapse into a coma, may be left with permanent brain damage or die.”
Dr Donohue said the warmer and wetter climate in north Queensland was favourable for mosquito-breeding sites such as lakes, swamps, rivers, puddles, salt marshes, even rubbish or containers holding rainwater.
"The advice is simple, if people are going bush this Easter, make sure you protect yourself and your families from mosquito bites,” he said.
"Use a strong insect repellent, ensure your tent has a mozzie screen or a net, wear loose-fitting full length clothing and use mosquito coils.”