Preventing mosquito-borne diseases one text at a time
SMS text messages with videos, images and common myth busters will be sent to Northern Rivers residents to prevent the spread of mosquito-bourne diseases.
Tackling Mosquitoes Together is a new program by Northern Rivers councils and the North Coast Public Health Unit.
This pilot behaviour change program to reduce the disease risks and nuisance of mosquitoes in homes and local communities.
Residents can join a free SMS program that will offer helpful tips and reminders to protect themselves, their family and community from mosquitoes.
Households will also be encouraged to reduce backyard mosquito breeding habitats and increase personal protection.
The most common mosquito-borne diseases in the Northern Rivers are Ross River virus and Barmah Forrest Virus. They are not fatal, but they can cause serious illness and have long-term health impacts.
In 2020, the Northern NSW Local Health District reported 429 cases of Ross River virus. That is the second highest number of cases on record, up from an average of 135 cases a year over the last 30 years.
Ballina Shire Council's Environmental Health Officer, Kristy Bell, said the impacts of climate change and severe wet weather events are increasing the risks of mosquito-borne disease in our area.
"Cases of Ross River virus disease are most commonly reported in late summer and early autumn, so it's important for the community to know what they can do to reduce risk," she said.
Byron Shire Council's Team Leader Environmental Health, Enzo Picerni, urged residents to join in the SMS program.
"When you join you will also receive an education pack with helpful information and mozzie repellent," he said.
"If we all do our bit in our own backyard, we can make a difference and help protect the whole community," Mr Picerni said.
To join up, simply go to the Tackling Mosquitoes Together website and click on the SMS Program sign up: www.tacklingmosquitoestogether.com.au