The Shire of Broome maintains a comprehensive mosquito monitoring and control program across the townsite. The program is documented in the Shire of Broome Mosquito Management Strategy(PDF, 861KB) (first adopted by Council in 2011), which guides the Shire’s response to managing mosquitoes, customer service requests, the prevention of breeding and the spread of mosquito-borne viruses.
If you have a mosquito problem at your home or place of business it is more than likely to be a localised problem. As mosquitoes can be carriers of debilitating and even potentially fatal diseases, it is very important that the community take responsible action to eliminate breeding sites around the home and work place. Local Government focuses on mosquito management on public land. Individuals have responsibility for management on their own property and for protecting themselves and their families from mosquito bites.
In the Kimberley there are four main mosquito borne viruses of public health concern i.e. those that are a threat to human health. There is no vaccination or cure for any of these diseases and protection from being bitten is the only prevention.
Ross River Virus (RRV) and the similar and usually less severe Barmah Forest Virus (BFV), which are carried in marsupials including kangaroos and wallabies, and probably other mammals, tend to be more common. These viruses can cause fatigue and tiredness and severe aches and pains and may last from many days to many months.
Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE) and Kunjin Virus (WNVKunjin) are carried in birds. Of these MVE is the more serious virus and in severe cases can be fatal or leave a victim with permanent disability.
Only a small number of mosquito species in the Broome region can carry these viruses and have potential to transmit disease to humans.
Residents of Broome are encouraged to ‘Fight the Bite’ as part of a ‘Healthy WA’ campaign to reduce the mosquito population and the incidence of mosquito-borne disease.
The three central messages are to:
- Cover up.
- Repel (use repellent).
- Clean up areas around the home where mosquitoes can breed.
What can I do to protect myself and stop mosquitoes breeding around my home?
- Cover up by wearing light-coloured long sleeve shirts and long pants that are loose fitting.
- Apply personal insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin if possible.
- Reduce outdoor activities during periods when mosquitoes are more active (dawn and dusk).
- Ensure fly screens to doors and windows are fitted and maintained.
- Some spatial repellents might also be useful (pyrethroid containing coils etc).
Check your property for potential breeding sources
- Empty pot plant bases weekly or fill the base with sand to absorb water.
- Plants that can hold water such as bromeliads should be washed out weekly.
- Clean roof gutters out regularly and trim back trees which can block gutters.
- Ensure rainwater tank overflow pipes are screened and access covers fitted securely.
- Keep swimming pools maintained.
- Ensure plumbing and vents to septic tanks are screened; and
- Birdbaths, ornamental pools and pet drinking bowls should be washed out weekly.
Throughout the year the Shire’s health staff trap mosquitoes at designated locations to count and type them. This work is more frequent in the wet season or if there are complaints from the community Checking for mosquito larvae (the water-based pre-adult mosquitoes) at recognised breeding sites is also performed.
Sentinel Chicken Program
The WA Department of Health maintains two sentinel chicken flocks in the Shire’s catchment. The Shire and Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation administer the Sentinel Chicken Program which uses the chicken flocks to monitor MVE and WNVKunjin activity in the environment.
People who are diagnosed with a mosquito-borne virus have their details provided (confidentially) to a member of the Shire’s health team. The environmental health officer will try to contact the person affected (by telephone or mail) to complete a questionnaire about the symptoms, likely places of exposure to mosquitoes and other relevant information which is provided to the Medical Entomology department within the WA Department of Health. This helps inform state and local government authorities on disease trends and control measures.
The mosquito lifecycle includes a water phase as well as the adult mosquito phase. It is only the adult female mosquito that bites because it requires a blood meal (protein) to produce eggs. Eggs are laid on or very close to standing water. This is why managing standing water around your property is important. Eliminating free standing water removes possible breeding sites.
Mozzie and Midges
Biting midges are tiny flies. They are smaller than mosquitoes but do have a similar appearance. While the midge bite can be irritating and its bites can become infected in susceptible individuals, midges are not known to spread disease. To find out more about midges please see the following link: Protecting yourself from biting midges.