Deadly threat bangs at Queensland's door

August 23, 2013
Deadly threat bangs at Queensland's door
Aedes albopictus female mosquito. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Scientists at The University of Queensland have identified a deadly threat lurking just 30 kilometres north of Queensland.

Researcher Dr Nigel Beebe said established populations of the dangerous Asian tiger mosquito had been found on the Torres Strait islands of Waiben (Thursday) and Ngurupia Horn), in the southern Torres Strait, just off Cape York Peninsula.

"This exotic mosquito is banging on our northern door demanding entrance and is most likely, despite our increasing efforts, to gain access."

He said there was no clearly marked frontier between Papua New Guinea and northern Australia, and it was difficult to ensure that people and boats were not accompanied by mosquitos carrying such as dengue and chikungunya.

"Once on the mainland, the Asian tiger mosquito is highly capable of travelling with humans and establishing as far south as Tasmania," Dr Beebe said.

"It is capable of transmitting both dengue and chikungunya throughout northern and southern urban landscapes in the summer months," he said.

"We need to be completely on the front foot here, aggressively developing technologies to shut down the risk of an Asian tiger mosquito expansion into Australia, while establishing contingency plans for its arrival."

Dr Beebe led a team of UQ researchers which quantified the of the tiger mosquito and found it did not come from PNG, as first thought, but from the Indonesian region, and most likely through illegal fishing in the region.

The study, published in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, found that there were already regular appearances of the Asian tiger mosquito at Australia's northern mainland ports, with boat travel between the islands being the most likely cause.

"With climate change, and the potential invasion of the tiger mosquito into our , the risk of dengue and chikungunya is likely to increase in Australia, due to changing temperatures as well as the increased use of rain water tanks and other water storage facilities," Dr Beebe said.

More information: www.plosntds.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pntd.0002361

Related Stories

Dengue fever makes deadly comeback in Greece

September 4, 2012

An elderly Greek man has died from complications of dengue fever, marking a reappearance of the mosquito-borne disease 85 years after its eradication from Greece, officials said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.