Doctors are sounding the warning that Australia could be about to experience a dire mosquito season due to the perfect conditions for breeding.
Australia could be set to experience “one of the worst” mosquito seasons for decades, an expert in the medical impact of insects has said.
An impending La Nina season, which brings with it wetter weather during the warmer months, could be the perfect conditions for the buzzing blighters to multiply.
While mosquito numbers have yet to explode in New South Wales every indication is it’s not far off. In Forbes, in the state’s central west, the insects are already taking hold aided by recent floodwaters.
“All this water is going to be sitting around for months on end and will provide habitat for mosquitoes, and I’m expecting we’re going to see one of the worst mosquito seasons I’ve ever seen in my working life and that’s 35 years,” Westmead Hospital director of medical entomology Professor Stephen Doggett told Channel 7’s The Morning Show.
“Across Australia, we’ve seen a lot of rainfall, and that’s when we tend to see a lot more mosquitoes and with more mosquitoes, more mosquito-borne disease.”
The Bureau of Meteorology has yet to officially declare a La Nina event, but it’s not thought to be far off with its US equivalent already stating its conditions had been met to call the climate driver.
During a La Nina event, which occur around summer, trade winds ramp up dragging cooler waters from the depths of the ocean to the surface in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific.
These winds, travelling from east to west, in turn push warmer seas closer to Australia. That helps in cloud formation which brings more rainfall.
Last summer, Australia also experienced a La Nina that led to the devastating floods across the east coast including around Sydney.
“The last time back-to-back La Ninas were declared, around a decade ago, Australia recorded its wettest 24 months on record, including major Brisbane floods and Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi,” Sky News Weather senior meteorologist Tom Saunders told news.com.au.
There’s nothing mozzies like more than pools of standing water and warm nights.
Mosquito virus warning
Mozzies are already an issue this year in Queensland.
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate has taken to eradicating the problem by air.
Helicopters will rather the larvae nesting in the city’s mangroves and tidal invest, The Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
“Timing is everything and we know there is no point spraying while heavy rain is occurring,” Mr Tate said this week.
“We needed to wait until the recent rain had passed as we need to target stagnant water in the wetlands and creek areas.”
Queensland authorities have already warned people to cover up to avoid mosquitoes as the weather warms up to Ross River virus.
Mosquitoes contract the virus from biting an infected animal then transmit it to humans when they bite the skin, but it isn’t contagious so it can’t be passed on through human-to-human contact.
Some people who contract the virus can suffer joint pain and fatigue for months after their infection, but most recover within weeks.
The most common symptoms include fever, swollen and painful joints, and rashes.
According to Queensland Health’s acting deputy director general Keith McNeil, Ross River infections account for the largest number of human mosquito-borne disease notifications in the state.
“If you’re enjoying the great outdoors this summer to play sport, go for bushwalks, catch up on gardening or even hosting a backyard barbecue, you need to be aware of mosquitoes,” Prof McNeil said.
“Biting can be experienced at any time of day, but some species are most active at dusk and dawn.
“There’s no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment available for Ross River virus, so it’s important you take steps to avoid infection as much as possible.”
According to Queensland Health data, there were 1649 cases in 2019 but that figure jumped dramatically to 3407 last year.
Western Australian authorities have issued similar warnings about mosquitoes plaguing parts of the state’s south west.
– with NCA NewsWire