Mosquito plague: Wet weather, floods in NSW, Victoria sees insect population skyrocket

Mosquito plague kicks off as non-stop rain helps the nightmare insect breed by the millions – as Aussies are warned to watch out for deadly disease

  • Australians being warned to prepare for a mosquito plague this summer
  • Experts say the recent wet weather has led to the perfect breeding ground
  • Health authorities are fearing an increase in mosquito-borne diseases
  • This includes the Japanese encephalitis virus, recently rediscovered in NSW

Australians are being told to prepare for a mosquito plague this summer after the non-stop rain brought on by our third wave of La Nina helped the pesky insect’s population explode. 

The months of rain that has drenched Australia’s east, as well as the warming weather ahead of summer, have combined to create the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The state of Victoria is especially on alert, warning the mosquito plague will worsen this summer and experts fearing an increase in mosquito-borne diseases, known as arboviruses.

Councils are urging residents to clear their gardens of any stagnant water to help control the mosquito population, as some council areas report mosquito populations growing 20-fold in the past month.

Areas which have experienced widespread flooding, including the north of the state, are being told to be especially vigilant as damp conditions are the ideal breeding ground for mosquitos. 

The recent wet weather and floods across the eastern part of the country have culminated in the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, with some Victorian councils reporting the population growing 20-fold

The recent wet weather and floods across the eastern part of the country have culminated in the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, with some Victorian councils reporting the population growing 20-fold

The Victorian Health Department monitors dozens of mosquito-trap sites across the state and recent data shows population numbers are drastically increasing

The Victorian Health Department monitors dozens of mosquito-trap sites across the state and recent data shows population numbers are drastically increasing

 Mosquitoes lay their eggs on or in still and stagnant water and can lay more than 300 eggs at once.

The Victorian Health Department monitors dozens of mosquito-trap sites across the state with recent data showing population numbers drastically increasing. 

In the week ending November 6, Campaspe Shire in northern Victoria, recorded 2394 mosquitoes per trap site compared to just 88 the month before.

It was a similar story in Shepparton Council, which recorded 2086 mosquitoes per trap site compared to 171 the month prior.

In NSW, the situation is equally dire with Associate Professor Cameron Webb from NSW Health Pathology warning about a mosquito explosion.

‘With so much water in the environment after the rains and flooding it creates perfect conditions for mosquitoes,’ he told 9News.

‘At the moment, in many parts of Australia particularly in NSW, it’s cooler and that keeps numbers in check.

‘As soon as warmer weather arrives we’re expecting a population increase.’

Mosquitoes lay their eggs on or in still and stagnant water and can lay more than 300 eggs at once (stock image)

Mosquitoes lay their eggs on or in still and stagnant water and can lay more than 300 eggs at once (stock image)

Mosquitoes carry viruses such as the deadly Japanese encephalitis (JE) and the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses. Earlier this month the communities around the Murray River in NSW were put on notice after the virus was detected amidst recent wet weather

Mosquitoes carry viruses such as the deadly Japanese encephalitis (JE) and the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses. Earlier this month the communities around the Murray River in NSW were put on notice after the virus was detected amidst recent wet weather

WHAT IS JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is an infection found in Asia and the west Pacific that can cause brain swelling.

It is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes and is more commonly found in rural and agricultural areas.

Most cases are mild but it can result in serious brain swelling with a sudden headache, high fever and disorientation.

There has been seven recorded deaths in Australia from JE from January 2021 to October 19, 2022

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The increase in population size also increases the likelihood of mosquito-borne disease.

Mosquitoes carry viruses such as the deadly Japanese encephalitis (JE) and the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses.

Seven Australians have died from JE after 42 people caught the virus between January 2021 and October 2022, the Australian Health Department confirmed.

Earlier this month, communities around the Murray River in NSW were put on notice after JE was detected amidst recent wet weather.

NSW Health Executive Director Dr Jeremy McAnulty said the detection of JE in pigs in the region was uncovered due to the ongoing surveillance of the mosquito-borne virus. 

‘Despite the winter season where mosquito populations usually diminish, it appears the Japanese encephalitis virus has continued to circulate along the Murray River, presumably between mosquitoes and waterbirds,’ Dr McAnulty said.

‘I would also continue to urge the community to stay vigilant and take precautions against mosquito bites altogether because, aside from Japanese encephalitis, mosquitoes carry a range of viruses for which there are no vaccines.’

The latest data from the NSW Arbovirus Surveillance & Mosquito Monitoring Program showed very high number of mosquitoes in the Murray River region.

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