Healthy living

Prevent mosquito bites on holiday in Australia

Fight the bite

In summer, a lot of time is spent outdoors but this is also when mosquitoes breed and bite. There is no cure or vaccine to protect against most diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in Australia. The only way to prevent infection from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Know how to prevent mosquito bites – cover up, repel, clean up.

Travelling within Western Australia or interstate

Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus occur in all regions of WA. However, the risk of infection is particularly high if you are travelling to northern WA or the South West.

Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin viruses occur in the northern two thirds of WA only. The risk of infection is highest if you are travelling to the Kimberley and Pilbara regions during or shortly after the wet season.

Evidence of Japanese encephalitis virus activity has now been detected in the Kimberly and Pilbara regions, through the Department’s surveillance programs. Although no human cases have been identified in WA as yet, the virus presents a potential risk to public health.

Japanese encephalitis has been detected in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, so travellers to affected areas should take additional precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Japanese encephalitis can cause fever and headache, with severe cases possibly resulting in neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, coma and seizures. Some people will go on to experience permanent neurological complications or possibly death. Japanese encephalitis has not be detected in WA.

If you are travelling to northern Queensland, be aware that occasional outbreaks of dengue virus occur. Dengue causes severe flu-like symptoms including fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, rash, nausea and vomiting. A second infection with a different strain of dengue in your lifetime can lead to a more severe form of the illness that is potentially fatal if not treated appropriately. Dengue virus is not transmitted by mosquitoes in WA.

Plan. Prepare. Pack.

  • Research your holiday destination and know the health risks.
  • Pack long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing.
  • Pack or purchase chemical-based insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), also known as PMD.
  • Pack a mosquito net or mosquito-proof camping equipment.

Holiday houses, boats, caravans and tents

Mosquitoes breed in fresh or salty water and often in containers that are holding water.

  • Reduce mosquito breeding around your accommodation by emptying, covering or removing containers or items that may collect water.
  • Boats, canoes and dinghies should be stored so they don’t hold water.
  • Make sure windows and doors are fitted with insect screens that are in good condition.
  • If your accommodation or tent isn’t mosquito-proof, cover your sleeping area with a mosquito net.
  • When outdoors and mosquitoes are present, apply a chemical-based insect repellent.

Hotels and motels

  • Close all doors and windows if they do not have insect screens.
  • If your accommodation isn’t mosquito-proof, cover your sleeping area with a mosquito net.
  • Request the room be sprayed for mosquitoes if you notice them.
  • When outdoors and mosquitoes are present, apply a chemical-based insect repellent.

Where to get help

Last reviewed: 25-03-2022

Environmental Health


Fight the Bite is an initiative of the Government of South Australia.
This web content has been reproduced and adapted with permission from SA Health.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.