Model maps risks of mosquitoes
Public health agencies could be better equipped to predict and manage mosquito-borne virus outbreaks in high-risk areas such as the Kimberley and Pilbara, thanks to a world-first model produced by WA researchers.
Angus Cook and Soon Hoe Ho, of the University of WA, in Perth, with Peter Speldewinde, of UWA’s The Albany Centre, assessed the risk of Murray Valley encephalitis virus in WA using a Bayesian belief network.
There is no vaccine for MVEV, which is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, and it can cause permanent brain damage or death.
In WA, MVEV is mainly endemic to the Kimberley, with sporadic cases in the Pilbara, Gascoyne, Mid West and Murchison areas over the past century, according to the Department of Health.
The model shows the Kimberley is a high-risk zone from DecemberApril because of warm, wet, humid weather conditions and numerous water bodies for mosquitoes to breed.
The Pilbara is rated medium risk, with Karratha and Port Hedland high-risk zones between February and April.
Dr Speldewinde said the model’s biggest benefit was its potential to predict outbreaks of other serious mosquito-borne diseases.
“The advantage of this model is it does not necessarily have to be for Murray Valley encephalitis ... we could use it for dengue fever or malaria,” he said.