Council taking part in NSW Mosquito Monitoring Program
Published on 01 February 2023
Japanese encephalitis Virus (JEV) is a rare but serious disease caused by infected mosquitoes biting humans. Less than 1% of people infected with JEV will experience symptoms, however some people can develop a severe infection that results in permanent neurological complications or death.
Thanks to NSW Health, Council have been provided with full funding to trap mosquitos in the Yass area to be sent off for testing for JEV. Councils Environmental Health officers have been leading the program and answered some questions about what it entails
Who is involved in mosquito trapping?
NSW Health has advised our community to take steps to protect ourselves and each other from Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and other mosquito-borne diseases this summer. JEV spreads to people from infected mosquitoes. In rare cases, it can cause severe illness and long-term health problems.
Yass Valley Council has been identified as an area of possible risk for JEV and we are therefore participating in the Mosquito Monitoring Program run by NSW Health.
We are responsible for the trapping and dispatch of mosquitoes that are caught in the trap to the Lab in Sydney for analysis.
The mosquito trapping component of the program involves setting traps to collect mosquitoes and dispatching collected mosquitoes via courier to the Institute for Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR) at Westmead Hospital for species identification and testing for the presence of viruses carried by mosquitoes (arbovirus) that can be transmitted to humans.
What does trapping do?
Trapping catches a sample of mosquitos in a trap that is set up overnight from dusk to dawn and the collected mosquitoes are sent to Sydney and analysed in the laboratory. The mosquitos are lured into the specially made trap by a light and carbon dioxide gas (which they are attracted to) and then blown into the trap by a little fan. This is set up at dusk and the trapped mosquitos are collected the next day and sent to Sydney to the Laboratory for testing.
Mosquitoes are analysed for species type and abundance and common mosquito borne diseases. This contributes to the NSW Health Arbovirus Monitoring Program.
When are we trapping?
Spring to Autumn. The wet weather, together with warmer temperatures, increases the risk of mosquito-borne disease and the number of mozzies in the environment.
Where are we trapping?
Initially, The Trap was set up around the YVC Sewage Treatment Plant as it is a low lying area near water, We received a low count, so we have now moved the trap to another area under trees along Chinamans Creek in Yass.
Why are we doing it?
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes. In 2022, JEV was detected in NSW for the first time with 13 cases of JE identified. Most people who contracted the disease had exposures to mosquitoes in the Murrumbidgee LHD or the southern part of Far West NSW. Yass Valley has not had any positive cases of JEV.
Tip on how to enjoy the great outdoors, mozzie bite free
Summer is a great time to get outdoors with the whole family. Just like we love the warm weather, so do mosquitoes (mozzies).
Some mozzies in NSW can carry viruses like the Japanese encephalitis virus, that can make you very sick. With more mozzies buzzing around, enjoy your time outdoors this summer by taking the steps to protect:
- Spray up. Wear and reapply repellent. Repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus should be used on all areas of exposed skin and reapplied regularly. Apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent, so you can stay safe from the sun and mozzie bites.
- Cover up. Wear light coloured, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts, long pants and covered footwear with socks when outside.
- Screen up. Close doors and windows when indoors, or install fly screens where possible to keep mozzies out.
- Clean up. Mozzies breed in stagnant water. Remove items around your home that might collect water such as old tyres, children's toys and empty pots. Think about improving drainage around your home to ensure water doesn’t become stagnant.
Following these simple steps will help to protect you and your community from mozzie bites and illnesses, so you can relax and enjoy the outdoors, bite free.
The latest information on mosquitoes and bite prevention can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au/keepmozziesaway