Eliminating dengue mosquitos
GOOMERI often enough records some of the lowest minimum temperatures in the Gympie region and is probably the last place you’d expect to suffer any risk of contracting dengue fever.
And Queensland Health, working with Gympie Regional Council, says it is confident its staff can keep things that way — despite finding some small populations of the dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) in a few of the town’s backyards.
Queensland Health’s Jarod Butler and Gympie Regional Council’s Celia Dempster were yesterday revisiting some of those backyards, checking for any remaining breeding environments and providing residents with advice on how to eliminate the problem.
“So far, we’ve only found larvae in one site,” Ms Dempster said yesterday, adding that people had been very helpful and had acted quickly on the advice they’d been given.
“There’s no need for fear,” she said.
“It’s just a matter of giving some advice on simple precautions, now that the weather is starting to get warm again.”
In Australia, the dengue mosquito is only found in Queensland, predominantly in the north. But its appearance in more southern locations, including Goomeri, is an indication that it may be on the way to fulfilling warnings that it has potential to spread to New South Wales, as well as the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett said Queensland Health was working with councils to survey mozzie populations and gather information, to help in developing control strategies.
“We surveyed the whole town and found 10 homes with some breeding areas,” Ms Dempster said.
“In warm weather, it only takes four days to complete a breeding cycle, so we tell people with bird baths and bromeliads to just hose them out briefly every couple of days, to freshen up the water so it isn’t stagnant.
“Goomeri is the only town in the Gympie region where we’ve found the dengue mosquito,” she said.
“And so far we’ve only found larvae in one site.”
Although there is currently a fair bit of water lying around in soaked paddocks and yards, this time last year the ground was baked hard as concrete in the drought.
And as Cr Perrett says, “Goomeri would be the coldest town in the Gympie regional area on winter mornings.
“So you wouldn’t really expect to find them here – they normally need hot weather. And the small containers they breed in can get very cold.”
Queensland Health information handouts also urge people to take away their pot plant trays — or fill them with sand — because they can be an ideal breeding ground.
Tyres, often used as swings or borders around fruit trees, also hold water and are excellent mozzie real estate.
Unscreened rainwater tanks, buckets or items of rubbish can also provide the necessary environment, as can drains and septic tanks and even plastic tarps, which can hold small pockets of water.
Any items capable of holding water should be emptied at least once a week.