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Warning Regarding Predicted Mossie Explosion

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An explosion of mosquitoes is inevitable for north Queensland as the region’s floodwaters reside, but whether this equates to a boom in mosquito-transmitted diseases is yet to be seen.

That’s according to CQUniversity’s expert in mosquito-transmitted diseases, Professor Andrew Taylor-Robinson, who said while there is a risk of an outbreak of virus infections, we can’t assume it will happen.

“The risk of contracting an infection with a so-called arthropod-borne (arbo) virus is complex and multifactorial,” explained Professor Taylor-Robinson.

“The availability of water into which female mosquitoes may lay eggs is just one variable, albeit an obvious and important one.

He says mosquitoes much prefer still water in which to breed, so once flood waters have ceased to flow, the region can expect the problem to escalate.

“In the days and weeks that the post-flood ‘mopping up’ process will take, the explosion in mosquito numbers that is already starting to be reported will lead to more human bites than would otherwise be expected towards the end of summer.

“It is axiomatic that with each bite there comes risk of viral infection, however low. The more a person is bitten, the greater the chance that one of those bites is from an infectious mosquito that will then pass on, for instance, Ross River virus.”

Professor Taylor-Robinson warns that north Queensland residents should be vigilant in reducing the mozzie threat by using personal protection and reducing potential breeding sites in close proximity to domestic settings.

“Fortunately, the population of Townsville is well versed in taking such anti-mosquito preventive measures, while the local health authorities will be on high alert to correctly diagnose the fever-related symptoms of arboviral infection.

“Most people infected with an arbovirus experience no symptoms (asymptomatic) or mild symptoms of a slight fever, headache, muscle or joint pain, and/or a skin rash, which resolve with no serious health problems. However, if symptoms persist or more serious and debilitating complications occur, expert medical advice should be sought.

“There are no specific treatments available for any Australian arbovirus disease; patients are standardly provided supportive care and prescribed general analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents to treat symptoms.”