QUEENSLAND could be in for a severe mosquito season thanks to an earlier and wetter than usual start to the rainy season.
The prediction was made by Andrew Taylor-Robinson, CQUniversity Professor of Immunology and Haematology and Research Coordinator of Infectious Diseases, who said mosquitoes required still, often stagnant water in which to breed.
"Queensland has witnessed an unusually wet October with some regions registering the heaviest monthly rainfall on record," Prof Taylor-Robinson.
"This means that now in late November, mosquitoes are starting to be seen in high numbers, which is much earlier than in years that experienced a drier spring.
"If October was a prelude to a wet summer, then the prediction of it being 'the worst mosquito season in history' may come true."
He said if the rain was to continue during and after the Christmas and New Year holiday period, North Queensland could expect potential mosquito outbreaks.
"What regions experience worse outbreaks will depend on the pattern, volume and duration of rainfall," he said.
"As a general rule, drier regions, where there is less rainfall over the summer, will experience fewer mosquitoes and therefore will have less pest problems as well as a reduced risk of the diseases that they may carry."
Prof Taylor-Robinson said while there were about 80 well-characterised species of mosquitoes that lived in Australia, people could expect to see only a few varieties buzzing around this summer causing real problems.
"Only a few, around a dozen, are known to carry pathogens, usually viruses such as Ross River and other so-called neglected arboviruses that can cause infection when passed to humans," he said.
"Mosquitoes have caused more human deaths than any other animal, so don't get bitten in the first place."
Prof Taylor-Robinson said there were several commonsense personal protection measures that can be taken to reduce the risk, starting with wearing clothing to cover arms and legs.
"Given the climate, this is often impractical, in which case correctly applying mosquito repellent to exposed areas of skin, and if possible avoid going outside at dawn and dusk when some mosquito species like to bite," he said.
"If you know you're going to a mozzie-infested area, it is a good idea to take the added precaution of opting for light clothing since dark colours attract mosquitoes as they are drawn to heat and darker clothes retain more heat than light-coloured clothing."
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