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Viruses, allergies and skin infections caused by insects

Queensland regularly experiences floods, cyclones and heavy rain. After these events, pooling water in the environment can create breeding grounds for mosquitoes and black flies and increase the potential for exposure to insect bites and mosquito-borne viruses.

Mosquito-borne diseases External Link caused by Dengue, Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses are reported annually in Queensland, with some diseases being more prevalent in North Queensland. Information on Zika virus External Link and its current status in Queensland is available from Queensland Health.

Whilst black flies External Link do not transmit diseases, allergic reactions and bacterial skin infections may occur from bites and scratching bite areas.

Reducing the risk of being bitten

To reduce the risk of students and staff being exposed to insect bites, schools are advised to inspect the grounds and work with their neighbouring landholders and local councils to remove potential breeding sites. During peak periods, staff and students should take appropriate steps to avoid insect bites, and if unwell following exposure to insect bites, seek prompt medical attention.

Queensland Health has detailed advice to assist in reducing the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by controlling mosquito breeding after floods External Link, methods to avoid mosquito bites External Link and mosquito prevention in schools External Link.

Schools in Dengue External Link or Zika External Link prone areas are advised to access information from their local Queensland Health Public Health Unit External Link for strategies to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.

Use of insect repellent at school

During peak periods, schools may recommend that students use an insect repellent during school hours to protect them from bites.

Prior to a student applying insect repellent at school, parental consent must be obtained and the school must ensure the student has used the repellent previously with no adverse reactions. A Written Authority for the Supply and Use of Insect Repellent template Microsoft® Word document 32K is available for schools to adopt or adapt for this purpose.

Teachers are not required to apply insect repellent to all students. However, school staff should supervise younger students and can provide assistance to students who may be experiencing difficulty in applying the insect repellent. Personal insect repellents should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations noted on the product.

Parents should be notified immediately if any adverse reaction to insect repellent occurs after application.

Contacts

For further advice regarding insect bites and mosquito-borne viruses, contact 13 HEALTH External Link (Ph.13 43 25 84) or your local Queensland Health Public Health Unit External Link.

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This page was last reviewed on 14 Mar 2016

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