Model maps risks of mos­qui­toes

Pilbara News - - News - Lisa Mor­ri­son

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.

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