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Insect viruses and allergies

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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 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 and its current status in Queensland is available from Queensland Health.

Whilst black flies 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, methods to avoid mosquito bites and mosquito prevention in schools.

Schools in Dengue or Zika prone areas are advised to access information from their local Queensland Health Public Health Unit 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 (DOC, 44KB) 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 (Ph.13 43 25 84) or your local Queensland Health Public Health Unit.

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Last updated 21 January 2019