Ministry of Health launches new campaign to fight mosquito-borne diseases

Media release

16 March 2018

Fight the bite – day and night. 

That’s the message the Ministry of Health is promoting to raise more awareness of the diseases mosquitoes in some countries can carry. 

The social media and online campaign starts today and has been prompted by recent outbreaks of dengue in parts of the Pacific and an increased number of dengue cases recorded mainly in Auckland among travellers returning from the Pacific. 

From 1 August last year through to 14 March, 263 dengue cases were reported in New Zealand, with 222 believed to have been acquired in the Pacific Islands. This includes 162 in Samoa, 30 in Tonga, 24 in Fiji, one in American Samoa and one in Vanuatu. One hundred and sixty-nine people were hospitalised. 

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says fortunately, New Zealand's mosquitos don’t spread dengue or other viral diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and Zika. 

“But as the recent increase in dengue cases in Auckland shows, there is a very real risk to people travelling to countries with tropical climates. Our new campaign aims to highlight to people travelling overseas that mosquito bites can result in serious diseases, such as dengue. And these diseases can make you or your loved ones very sick.” 

Dr McElnay says the best way to avoid mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.  

The Ministry has released a new video to launch the campaign with tips on how to prevent mosquito bites. 

[Title: Fight the bite, day and night]

Travelling overseas?

Fight the bite day and night.

[Dr Laupepa Va'a to camera]

Talofa lava, my name is Dr Laupepa Va'a from the Ministry of Health.

Mosquitoes in some countries can spread diseases like dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever and the Zika virus that can make you or your loved ones very sick.

The best way to avoid these diseases is to avoid getting bitten during the day, and at night!  

Encourage family and other group members to do this too. Everyone needs to be kept safe.

[Footage of insect repellent being applied to a child as well as arms, hands and feet]

Simple things work best:

Use insect repellent, especially when you are outside. Some work better than others. You can find more information about this on our website.

[Footage showing sunscreen being applied, followed by insect repellent]

If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, put the sunscreen on first and then the repellent.

[Footage showing a long sleeved shirt being rolled down, buttoning up shirt, adjusting long pants, hat being put on child's head]

Wear clothes that protect you from mosquitoes: light coloured long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats are ideal.

[Footage showing clothes being sprayed with insect repellent]

You can spray your clothing with insect repellent too to help stop mosquitoes biting through your clothes.

[Footage showing insect repellent being reapplied to arms and feet]

Remember to reapply the repellent as you would on your skin, because it wears off over time.

[Footage showing mosquito coil being lit and image of tent with screen door]

You can use mosquito coils and if you’re camping, use insect screens on tents.

[Footage showing air conditioning unit and ceiling fan]

When you’re inside:

Turn on the air conditioning if you have it - cool air keeps mosquitoes away.

[Footage showing insect spray being used and image of insect screen on door/window]

Use insect sprays and try to stay in places with insect screens on windows and doors.

[Still images showing mosquito nets over beds]

If you are not staying somewhere with air conditioning or insect screens, sleep under a mosquito net at night, or put on  insect repellent before you go to bed.

[Dr Laupepa Va'a to camera]

If you feel sick during your trip or after you come home, get medical advice.

If you are back in NZ you can call Healthline for free. Or see your family doctor and make sure you tell them about your travel.

You can find out more on the Ministry of Health website.

More information about dengue, including symptoms and treatment, as well as Samoan, Tongan and Fijian translations, is available from the Your health dengue resource

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