As a growing mosquito infestation continues to ravage flood-stricken areas in Australia’s eastern states, we are being told to take action to ‘avoid being bitten at all costs’.
As the country struggles through its third La Nina event in a row, the sodden conditions have created an excellent breeding ground in NSW and Victoria.
“With the weather this wet for the third year in a row, we are now finally seeing the mosquitoes catch up to us,” Veronique Paris, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, told Yahoo News Australia. “That’s not too surprising, because mosquitoes depend on water for their reproduction, so as more water is added to the environment and it sticks with all this flooding, mosquitoes are taking advantage.”
Researchers from the University of Melbourne have shared a photo online highlighting the increase in mosquito numbers.
“When we looked around a corridor in our building, we found about 20 mosquitoes hanging around the entrance,” they said.
While pointing to University of Sydney researchers who have seen “probably double the number” of mosquitoes in NSW, Ms Paris says she has been swamped by concerned locals in Melbourne. “I have had pretty much everyone I know contact me now asking me what is going on, what can I do about this, is this normal? Is it just me, what to do and whether we should be concerned, ”she said. “So that’s definitely something we’ve seen that we haven’t seen in recent years.”
Aussies urged to ‘be careful’
While mosquito bites are often little more than an irritation to victims, Ms. Paris warns that they can be very dangerous if the beetle transmits a serious disease.
“I understand that most people don’t want to be bitten by mosquitoes because they are annoying [and] I know a lot of people who don’t really react, don’t think about it very much,” she said. “But with diseases like Japanese encephalitis and the Ross River virus, we really should take care of ourselves and make sure we avoid getting bitten at all costs, because it can actually become a bigger problem than you might think, and we don’t really.” wants many people to run into problems.
Two people in NSW have tragically lost their lives after contracting Japanese encephalitis, which is spread by mosquitoes, since it was first reported in the state in late February. Another 13 residents were also affected.
‘Severe and unpredictable’ weather does not indicate an end to the outbreak
When asked by Yahoo News Australia how long the mosquito outbreak will last, Ms Paris admitted it is “very, very hard to say”.
“It’s really very unpredictable because we don’t know what the weather is going to do to us,” she explained. “This is due to climate change, with weather conditions becoming much more severe and unpredictable, and a lot of water needs to be removed before the situation will change.”
She calls on everyone to take action where they can.
“If you have a garden or even a balcony, remove anything that can hold water, because empty pots, playground equipment, drip trays under plants, all of those things can breed mosquitoes,” she said. “And if you prevent them from breeding close to your house, you’re a lot better protected, even if they’re breeding somewhere that’s flooded.”
She also encourages Aussies to wear long sleeves and pants when going to a wetland, and to use plenty of mosquito repellent. “That’s actually very effective and it’s a really simple way to make sure you reduce the chances of getting bitten,” she said.
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