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DIY mosquito repellent 'not a safe thing to do', Victorian health official warns
Amid concern about diseases like Japanese encephalitis this mosquito season, health officials are urging people to avoid a potentially dangerous trend of making their own mosquito repellents.
This week, another case of Japanese encephalitis was recorded in the Riverland region of South Australia along with in Queensland and New South Wales.
The virus, spread through mosquito bites, is most commonly asymptomatic but can result in severe infection.
Robert Grenfell from Grampians Public Health said a concerning trend of making DIY insect repellents using rubbing alcohol could be dangerous.
"We've had some reports from some concerned members of the public," he said.
"They'd found some people were mixing up their own mosquito repellents using particular commercially available chemicals.
"It's not a safe thing to do."
Purchasing an insect repellent from a pharmacy or supermarket meant it was regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and that key ingredients were at "safe concentrations", Dr Grenfell said.
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"You can't guarantee that when you are making them yourself," he said.
"Getting the chemical concentrations wrong … can burn, irritate the eyes and skin."
Ineffective repellents such as vitamin B, citronella or lavender oil should also be avoided, Dr Grenfell said.
"It's a real shame that a lot of the essential oils, or vitamin preparations are touted around," he said.
"It would be great if they worked, but they don't."
While there is a concern about viruses such as Ross River, Barmah Forest and Japanese encephalitis, Dr Grenfell says safe prevention is key.
"We are actively monitoring our mosquitoes across Victoria at the moment, and I'm pleased to say we haven't found any Japanese Encephalitis activity at this stage," he said.
"But I will remind people, we did have it earlier this year."
Ross River and Barmah Forest virus are prevalent in mosquitoes across Victoria, Dr Grenfell said.
Symptoms may include fever, chills, joint swelling, fatigue, headaches or muscle pain.
Dr Grenfell recommended emptying water sources to discourage mosquitoes.
"Look for stagnant water around the house and minimise it because that is where mosquitoes will breed," Dr Grenfell said.
"And it can be anything – even water in the base of a flowerpot can cause mosquitoes to breed."
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