Information about mosquito-borne disease in the context of Australian floods.
Are mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases going to be a problem after the floods?
The flood conditions and long periods of high rainfall in many parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria may promote an increase in mosquito numbers.
Mosquito larvae develop in standing/stagnant water that has been standing for at least 7-10 days.
Some mosquito species will also develop in brackish/saline habitats so high tides together with flooding in coastal regions may also increase mosquito numbers.
Along with this increase in mosquito numbers, there may be an increase in the risk of some mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.
Is the risk of dengue fever going to increase?
We believe that the mosquito that transmits dengue, Aedes aegypti, is not currently present in suburban Brisbane.
Without this mosquito present, the risk is negligible. However, the dengue mosquito is present in other flood-affected regions of Queensland, including Rockhampton and some regional townships.
In those regions there is some risk of potential Dengue transmission but the lack of dengue transmission in the recent past suggests this risk may be low.
To reduce the risk posed by the dengue mosquito, it is particularly important to remove containers around the home that hold water (see below about protecting yourself from mosquitoes).
How do I protect myself from mosquitoes?
The best protection against mosquitoes (and the diseases that they transmit) is to wear long, loose protective clothing and to wear a personal repellent that contains DEET or picaridin at all times, even during the day.
It is also a good idea to:
- repair window screens as soon as possible
- clear gutters and other structures or debris that may hold water such as small containers like bird baths, pot plant saucers, plastic toys etc to reduce the number of mosquitoes breeding around your home
- check damaged water tanks that may be harbouring mosquitoes.
Pay particular attention to the screens and valves on your rainwater tank to ensure that they are intact and repair if necessary. Drain any stagnant pools of water in your yard as soon as possible.
Use mosquito coils or zappers, which may also assist in removing mosquitoes.