A dengue mosquito elimination program is gaining traction in Tennant Creek, a year since the dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti, was found in the town.
A team of five NT Health staff, known to the locals as the Mozzie Mob, are conducting property inspections to review backyard items that can hold water to treat them for mosquito eggs or larvae.
Nina Kurucz, NT Health’s Centre for Disease Control, Director of Medical Entomology Unit said potential mosquito breeding sites included buckets, plant drip trays and tyres.
“While dengue fever is not currently present anywhere in the Northern Territory, if the dengue mosquito became established, it could pick up the virus from an infected overseas traveller and transmit it to other people – so it’s important elimination be achieved,” Ms Kuruz said.
“To reach this milestone, it’s expected each private and commercial property in Tennant Creek will need to be inspected and treated several times.
“Initial inspections of almost 250 properties early last year found 11 with dengue mosquito larvae or adults.
“To date, over 1,400 properties throughout Tennant Creek have been inspected and treated.
“Local residents are asked to continue their tremendous support for the program by permitting the Mozzie Mob to access to their backyards, as this will help the NT return to its status of being free of the dengue mosquito,” Ms Kurucz said.
Dengue fever is a viral illness and people of all ages are at risk of infection. It is characterised by abrupt onset of high fever lasting three to seven days, severe headache, pain behind the eyes and muscle and joint pains. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, a rash and sometimes minor bleeding from the nose and gums.
To help prevent the spread of dengue mosquitoes, Tennant Creek residents should follow these tips:
Notify the dengue mosquito elimination team if mosquito larvae are found by calling 0460 002 281Empty water from all potential receptacle breeding sites including buckets, plant drip trays and tyres, both outdoors and indoorsAllow free drainage or dispose of, or store under cover any items that are out in the weather and can collect waterTreat unused spas and pools with chlorineCompletely empty, wash out and replace water in pet bowls and paddling pools on a weekly basisStrike plant cuttings in wet sand rather than in buckets of waterCooperate with the dengue mosquito elimination team when they visit to check and treat receptacles or to leave mosquito traps in yards.
The Northern Territory Government and the Commonwealth Government are each providing $1.4 million in funding for this two-year program.