Mosquitoes down, virus numbers up

LOW. Mosquito populations throughout the Gannawarra Shire are dropping.

LOW. Mosquito populations throughout the Gannawarra Shire are dropping.

MOSQUITO numbers throughout the Gannawarra Shire are dropping as cases of Ross River Virus continue to be confirmed.

Population numbers spiked in October and November following flooding throughout the Loddon and Murray river catchments, with council enacting a wide-scale control program following advice from the Department of Health and Human Service.

"Five adult mosquito traps are set weekly in strategic locations at Kerang, Cohuna and Koondrook with numbers reducing from almost 12,500 at the start of November to less than 150 last week," council's manager for community health, Narelle O'Donoghue said.

"This reduction in mosquito activity has been assisted by the hot, dry conditions and the drying up of water in the floodplain."

Despite the reduction in population numbers, cases of viruses passed on to humans via mosquito bites continue to be reported.

The Department of Health and Human Services has received notification of 1012 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ross River Virus in the past five months, with 21 residents in the Gannawarra Shire impacted.

This follows on from this week's confirmation of West Nile virus - also known as Kunjin virus - being detected in a sentinel chicken flock at Shepparton.

Council will continue to monitor its sentinel chicken flock - one of 13 sites across the State - as part of its commitment to the annual Victorian Mosquito Monitoring and Control Program.

Mrs O'Donoghue said that the risk of contracting a mosquito borne virus still exists and residents should exercise caution by avoiding being outside when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, covering up exposed skin, and applying a good quality insect repellent.

"We will continue to closely monitor the situation and report on any changed conditions," she said.

Further information on mosquito borne disease and how to avoid being bitten can be found at www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/mosquitoes-can-carry-diseases

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