Researchers tackle mosquito-borne diseases 


An ARC funded collaborative project lead by CDU aims to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the Northern Territory Government to tackle the increasing threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

Five teams of researchers in the areas of medical entomology, larvae ecology and control, landscape ecology and population ecology, from Charles Darwin University’s School for Environmental Research and Menzies School of Health Research, and the Medical Entomology Branch of the NT Department of Health and Community Services, make up the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded project.

Core objectives are:

  1. Analysis of a twenty-year dataset on mosquito population biology;
  2. Evaluate the relationship with control spraying in the Greater Darwin Area to evaluate the effectiveness of current preventative methods; and
  3. Undertake landscape-scale mosquito control experiments to optimise health outcomes and spraying control program.

Preliminary results from Bart Currie and Susan Jacklyn (medical epidemiology) show strong correlations between Ross River virus cases in Darwin suburbs with monthly rainfall, humidity and tides.

Grant Williamson and David Bowman (landscape ecology) have found the drainage and engineering works in Leanyer swamp have caused major environmental change, with the conversion of a freshwater system to a salt pan/mangrove system.

Guo-Jing Yang, Corey Bradshaw and Barry Brook (population dynamics) have demonstrated that the abundance of the two most important mosquito species in Darwin is strongly determined by their own population dynamics.

Over the coming months, the $1.6 million project will be developing predictive models for mosquito fauna and disease risk incorporating seasonality and climatic factors. A major meeting is scheduled for April 12.

Along with CDU’s School for Environmental Research and Menzies School of Health Research, and DHCS’s Medical Entomology Branch, project partners include the NT Department of the Chief Minister, NT Department of Planning and Infrastructure, NT Bureau of Meteorology and Department of Defence.

For more information contact Siobhan de Little.