Australians warned of increased mosquito-borne disease threat

Australian Bureau of Meteorology

AUSTRALIAN scientists have warned of an increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases amid forecast wet conditions during the upcoming spring and summer.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) earlier in September declared a rare third consecutive La Nina weather event, meaning the country is likely to face a summer of heavy rainfall and high humidity.

It comes as Australia’s northeast recovers from floods that devastated the region between February and April.

Paul De Barro, a research scientist from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said the floods had created perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

“Anywhere you’ve got shallow (pooling) water, it’s an ideal habitat for mosquitoes such as Culex annulirostris,’’ De Barro was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday.

“Even though you might not have flooding directly in your area, it can fly tens of kilometres, so it can move inland quite some distance as it’s assisted by the wind.’’

Also known as the common banded mosquito, the Culex annulirostris is native to the Pacific and a carrier of arboviruses, including the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV).

JEV is a potentially fatal infection of the brain that can cause inflammation, headaches, fevers, and seizures.

Earlier in 2022, the Federal Government declared JEV a communicable disease incident of national significance amid an outbreak in the country’s southeast.

According to the Health Department of the Australian government, there were 40 human cases of JEV nationwide as of early September and six deaths.

“It could well be a problem again this year because the conditions are very similar to last summer when the virus was detected in Australia,’’ De Barro said. (Xinhua/NAN)