Victorians are being urged to stay safe, protect themselves from mosquitoes and think about food safety when cooking outdoors for Australia Day and the rest of summer.
Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today advised Victorians that heavy rainfall in 2016 created ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes, resulting in increasing reports of mosquito-borne illness.
Mosquitoes can carry serious diseases such as Ross River Virus, Barmah Forest Virus and the potentially life-threatening Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus.
The Department of Health and Human Services has already received 377 reports of Ross River virus since 1 January. That makes this summer an even larger mosquito season than the last major floods of late 2010, where there were just 33 cases of Ross River virus reported in the same period.
We urge everyone to cover up, wear loose fitting clothing, and use mosquito repellents containing DEET or picaridin on all exposed skin. Mosquito numbers can also be controlled with ‘knockdown sprays’ and nets or screens should be used when camping in tents.
To combat the spread of mosquitoes this summer, the Andrews Labor Government has provided an extra $4.6 million to expand mosquito surveillance and control activities, as well as community education programs.
As part of this boost, 17 higher risk and flood-affected rural councils are receiving funding to reduce mosquito breeding.
Home chefs are also being reminded to practice good personal hygiene and handle food safely when preparing food outdoors on a BBQ.
Notifications of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella are higher during the summer months, as bacteria can multiply quicker in hot and humid weather.
Cooking outdoors can bring added risks as refrigeration and places to wash hands are not readily available so food can be exposed to insects, pests and dust. And if you are sick, avoid parties and preparing food for at least 24 hours.
For more information on the Victorian Government’s Beat the Bite campaign and tips for handling food safely visit
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“Mosquitoes can be a real nuisance for families that are camping or enjoying a BBQ for Australia Day and into February. But it’s not just their bites that can turn nasty – they can spread diseases like Ross River virus.”
“We want all Victorians to enjoy a safe and healthy summer. That’s why we’re urging everyone to take action to beat the bite and follow simple and inexpensive steps to stay safe outdoors.”
“Cooking outdoors is an iconic part of celebrating summer. Preventing food poisoning can be as easy as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and making sure food is stored safely.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020