Mossie plague puts the bite on students

SWARMS of mosquitoes have infested parts of the Hunter thanks to favourable breeding conditions.Heavy rain in mid-February followed by warm weather boosted populations of the insects making their last stand before the end of summer.Schools in the region have reported infestations and asked parents to send children to school with repellent.Hamilton South Public School was unexpectedly clouded by the insects last week, prompting acting principal Sue Smith to buy repellent for each classroom. The unwelcome visitors were still plaguing the school in smaller proportions this week. "On Monday and Tuesday they were just carrying everyone away," Ms Smith said. Jewells Public School also reported an infestation and asked parents to pack repellent. Typical hot spots such as Shortland Waters Golf Club, University of Newcastle Callaghan Campus, and New Lambton Heights have all seen massive surges in mosquito populations. Hunter New England Health public health physician Dr David Durrheim said the mosquitoes could spread Ross River and Barmah Forest disease. He said the best way to avoid disease was preventing mosquito bites by staying inside at dawn and dusk, wearing pants and long sleeves, using repellent, fitting flyscreens and avoiding trouble spots. "Mosquitoes breed in places such as pools, gutters and containers. It's time to clean up around the home to ensure you aren't providing a breeding ground for mozzies," Dr Durrheim said.

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