Residents in the northern Cassowary Coast may have noticed an increased presence of CSIRO staff knocking on doors in the past week. They are busy finding residents who are happy to host mosquito traps for the next phase of their study which they began in 2015.
CSIRO has is working in Innisfail, in partnership with James Cook University and Verily (a Google affiliate) to show that it is possible to significantly reduce the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito population, if not remove it, and therefore also reduce the threat from diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
“We have been studying mosquitoes and their behaviour on the Cassowary Coast for nearly two years and are now preparing, following community support and government permits, to release sterile male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (males don’t bite) over the wet season in Innisfail and selected surrounding communities,” said Lead Scientist, Dr Nigel Beebe.
“We hope the males we release will mate with the wild females. As a result, the eggs she then lays won’t hatch and this will reduce the population in the next generation. If we get our numbers right, we believe the Aedes aegypti mosquito population will quickly die off,” said Dr Beebe.
“We have had wonderful support from the community during our studies and monitoring so far, and hope this will continue through the next phase of the project which will run to June 2018”. said CSIRO’s Innisfail-based Community Engagement Officer Kathryn Dryden.
“We encourage individuals, schools, community groups, and businesses to contact us and be informed. We want everyone in Innisfail to know what we’re doing,” Mrs Dryden said.
For more information call 1800 403 083 or email Innisfail_project@csiro.au.
A Project Advisory Group is also being established made up of representatives from the community to stay informed about the progress of the study and provide feedback to the team on what the community are thinking and feeling. Interested individuals are invited to participate.