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with thanks to
Parentmedic NQ

We are fortunate to live on the tropical north Queensland Coast, with plenty of sunshine, sand and sea. This also brings a warm climate with the unwanted effect of annoying flying insects called mosquitoes and sand flies (biting midges).
Mosquitoes and sand flies are most prevalent and active in the early morning and evening.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are common flying insects. The majority of mosquito problems are caused by saltmarsh mosquitoes and further mosquito breeding occurs in freshwater after periods of high rainfall. Regular high tides cause tidal marshes to flood, triggering mosquito breeding.

To prevent mosquitoes in and around the home, windows and doors should be screened. Empty all containers throughout the garden that hold water such as pot plant saucers, tyres, roof guttering and tins to prevent breeding. Bed nets are an effective barrier at home or camping. Insect repellent and coils around the house can help keep mosquitoes at bay.

Sensitivity to mosquito bites varies with individuals, most people only have a mild reaction, but others can have severe symptoms. If the bites are scratched, they may become infected, especially on the lower limbs. The classic “mozzie bite” is an itching, inflamed lump on the skin. Clean the bite with warm soapy water and dry the bite with a clean cloth. Application of a cool compress (i.e., icepack wrapped in cloth) can reduce inflammation. Seek medical advice if there is development of any other symptoms or signs of infection.

Local council may use fogging as an option in areas where there is an outbreak, to kill the mosquito population. This helps to prevent mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue, Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses, which can only be confirmed with appropriate blood tests.

Sand Flies

Sand Flies (biting midges) are so small (1.0mm – 3.0mm) that they often go unobserved by the individual being bitten. Sand flies are terrible fliers and get carried easily by wind, meaning they are a regular and irritating pest which can be found in swarms.

Sand Flies are most active at sunrise and sunset, so to prevent sand flies in and around the home, windows and doors should be screened, keep trees and plants trimmed, use fans in summer to literally blow them away and use mosquito coils outdoors. You can protect yourself from being bitten by wearing insect repellent and reducing the amount of skin you expose at the times of day when bites are most prevalent.

A bite from a small sand fly can be more painful than the bite of a large mosquito. Sand fly bites can also produce rashes and cause fevers depending on the tolerance to the bite. Apply an ice pack on the site of bite to prevent swelling, itching, and soothe the skin. Wash the site with soap and apply an anti-septic cream or lotion. Seek medical advice if there is development of any other symptoms or signs of infection.

treating mosquito and sandfly bites

Insect Repellents

Some insect repellents will contain warnings regarding age limitations for use on children. However, it is not recommended to use topical repellents on children under 3 months. Topical repellents should be avoided where possible for babies, and physical barriers such as netting of prams, cots and play areas is preferred. Repellents containing <10% DEET or picaridin are considered safe if applied according to label instructions. Most importantly, children should not apply their own repellents and carers should be cautious not to apply excessive amounts of repellent. When applying repellent to children, the repellent should be applied to the hands of the carer first and then to the exposed skin of the children. Only a thin, even coverage of repellent is required. Although they are often perceived to be safer, it is important to remember that repellents containing botanical extracts may still cause skin irritation and should be applied according to label instructions.

For further information on bites and stings CLICK HERE

The information provided by Parentmedic North Qld is for general informational and educational purposes only. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals.
The use or reliance of any information is solely at your own risk.

Loretta Woodford is passionate about educating parents and carers to be confident in an emergency through her Baby/Child First Aid sessions. She is a Registered Nurse with a Master in Nursing (Education) and the Owner of Parentmedic North Qld

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