COUNCIL efforts are under way to reduce local mosquito breeding grounds, with the Rural City of Wangaratta experiencing a more than five-fold increase in Ross River virus cases since last year.
Department of Health statistics show a total of 34 reported cases of Ross River virus in the rural city just since the beginning of this year, a marked increase on last year’s total of six.
Graeme Walker, Department of Health spokesman, said the figures did not necessarily mean people contracting the illness had been infected in the rural city, as cases were attributed to patients’ addresses.
“But Wangaratta’s proximity to the Murray River, the fact there is not a great distance to travel to all those great holiday spots in that area over the Christmas-New Year break, means it is essential to cover up and use appropriate repellent when visiting those places,” he said.
Barry Green, Rural City of Wangaratta director development services, said council was working with Indigo Shire to combat the prevalence of mosquitoes following ideal breeding conditions in the lead-up to summer.
Both municipalities received a share of $4.6 million in State Government funding in an effort to halt the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like Ross River virus and West Nile or Kunjin virus, which has been detected in Shepparton this week.