Dengue-buster ar­rives

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL re­search is com­ing to the Dou­glas Shire in an ef­fort to re­duce the risk of dengue and Zika out­breaks in the re­gion. The Aus­tralian-led Elim­i­nate Dengue Pro­gram is hop­ing to carry out the con­trolled re­lease of mos­qui­toes across sub­ur­ban ar­eas of Port Dou­glas, Moss­man, North Moss­man, Moss­man Gorge and Cooya Beach.

These mos­qui­toes carry Wol­bachia, nat­u­ral and safe bac­te­ria that pre­vent viruses like dengue and Zika from grow­ing in­side mos­qui­toes and then be­ing passed be­tween peo­ple. The mos­qui­toes we re­lease breed with the lo­cal mos­quito pop­u­la­tion, pass­ing Wol­bachia to their off­spring. Over time, the pro­por­tion of mos­qui­toes in our re­lease ar­eas that carry Wol­bachia is ex­pected to in­crease un­til al­most all the mos­qui­toes carry the bac­te­ria, in­creas­ing pro­tec­tion from dengue and Zika to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Sim­i­lar work is be­ing car­ried out in Cairns and Townsville, where Elim­i­nate Dengue re­searchers have been able to suc­cess­fully in­tro­duce Wol­bachia into mos­quito pop­u­la­tions. Since 2011, there has been no ev­i­dence of dengue trans­mis­sion in ar­eas where Wol­bachia car­ry­ing mos­qui­toes make up the ma­jor­ity of the Aedes ae­gypti pop­u­la­tion.

In Dou­glas Shire, the Elim­i­nate Dengue Pro­gram will be­gin by mon­i­tor­ing the mos­quito pop­u­la­tion and talk­ing with lo­cal res­i­dents and com­mu­nity groups. The re­searchers hope to start field re­leases in Oc­to­ber this year, at the end of the peak tourism sea­son.

Elim­i­nate Dengue spokesper­son, Kate Ret­zki, is en­cour­ag­ing lo­cals to learn about the project and the ben­e­fits it can bring to the re­gion. “For many years the Dou­glas Shire has been bur­dened by dengue out­breaks,” Ms Ret­zki said. “We be­lieve our method of­fers a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion to this prob­lem that is safe for peo­ple, wildlife and the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil gen­eral man­ager op­er­a­tions Paul Hoye is con­fi­dent the com­mu­nity will get be­hind the re­search. “I’ve lived here for many years now and have seen

I con­tracted dengue in one of the first out­breaks in Moss­man in the late 1990s and it was with­out a doubt the worst pain ever, worse than child­birth, worse than dysen­tery, it was like a sledge­ham­mer was smash­ing my bones con­stantly.

Even now I get para­noid about dengue, I’m spray­ing all the time and if I get bit­ten by mozzies it can make me anx­ious.

It prob­a­bly took me about a year to re­cover from dengue. In the be­gin­ning I couldn’t work and we have our own busi­ness which made it re­ally hard and very stress­ful.

If we can Elim­i­nate Dengue in the Dou­glas Shire that would be a fan­tas­tic out­come be­cause you wouldn’t wish that pain on any­one. the im­pact dengue has had on our re­gion, par­tic­u­larly at our schools, and pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions,” Mr Hoye said.

“The Elim­i­nate Dengue pro­gram of­fers a unique op­por­tu­nity to re­duce this risk of dengue for peo­ple liv­ing in this beau­ti­ful part of the coun­try.”

Coun­cil’s Vec­tor Con­trol Of­fi­cer Luke Maloney with for­mer suf­ferer Sharon Beechey

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