Buzzing and biting mosquitoes are more than just annoying, they're potentially dangerous with health authorities warning residents and visitors in central Victoria to protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.
Ross River virus was detected in mosquitos in Moira Shire, Campaspe Shire and Greater Shepparton as well as popular holiday towns along the Surf Coast.
Last year in Ballarat there were 12 cases of Ross River Fever diagnosed, compared to a total of four over the previous three years.
Recent rains and warm weather, and the forecast of a wetter than average summer, have created ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry the virus.
On Christmas Eve, Victoria's chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton issued an advisory to health professionals and Victorians living in or travelling to central Victoria.
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Ross River Virus can cause symptoms including joint pain and stiffness, headache, fever, rash and fatigue which can last three to six months, but some people can have symptoms for a year or more.
"The best protection from Ross River virus and other mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid mosquito bites," Professor Sutton wrote in the advisory.
"Protective measures include regularly using mosquito repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin, wearing long, loose fitting clothing when outside, and ensuring accommodation, including tents, are properly fitted with mosquito nettings or screens."
In 2017 there were 42 cases diagnosed in Ballarat and 1965 across the state during a widespread outbreak.
Professor Sutton said mosquito numbers were very high along parts of the Murray River from Gunbower to Yarrawonga, with weather conditions predicted to be favourable to mosquito biting and breeding.
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