Launching the 2016 Fight the Bite campaign today, Health Minister John Day said there were fears that last year's below average mosquito numbers and the unseasonally cool spring had lulled people into a false sense of security.
"It's a case of West Aussies versus mozzies this summer, with recent rains, forecast rapidly rising temperatures and higher than usual tidal activity creating a 'perfect storm' of ideal breeding conditions," Mr Day said.
"In previous bad years, more than 1,000 people have been infected in Western Australia with mosquito-borne diseases, for which there are no vaccines or cures. Viruses such as Ross River and Barmah Forest can be physically, mentally and financially debilitating.
"The three Fight the Bite messages are: Cover up by wearing long, loose-fitting clothing; use a personal insect repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin; and clean up around the home to remove stagnant water that mosquitoes can breed in."
The $120,000 publicity campaign is part of the Liberal National Government's four-year, $4 million investment to strengthen mosquito management across the State, with extra funds into programs including mosquito surveillance and competitive research grants, while supporting and building capacity in local government mosquito management activities.
"Fight the Bite follows Department of Health research revealing people are commonly bitten around their home but are generally unaware of the disease risks. Prevalent mosquito-borne viruses can be debilitating, including severe fatigue, joint swelling and pain, with symptoms persisting for many weeks or even months," the Minister said.
"I encourage people to go to http://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au and share the site on social media with the hashtag #FightTheBite."
Mr Day said the online, radio and print Fight the Bite campaign would be augmented by local government promotions and would also target West Australians travelling overseas.
"It is extremely disturbing that more than 500 Western Australian residents a year come home with potentially deadly diseases such as dengue and malaria," he said.
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