Collecting mossie spit for health in our region

MOSSIE SPIT: Katherine Stock, Director of Nursing and Michana Bell, Operations Officer at Normanton Hospital, monitor the Normanton trap.
MOSSIE SPIT: Katherine Stock, Director of Nursing and Michana Bell, Operations Officer at Normanton Hospital, monitor the Normanton trap.

Every two weeks North West Hospital and Health Service (NWHHS) nurses in Normanton and Karumba collect little cards of mossie spit and send them off to a laboratory in Brisbane, to detect what kind of viruses our local mosquitoes are carrying.

They’re playing their part in the Queensland Arbovirus Sentinel Surveillance System, which targets several mosquito-borne viruses, according to Public Health Nurse, Keith Rickart, who is working on Queensland Health’s Mosquito-borne Disease Prevention and Control Program for Queensland Health.

“These viruses include Murray Valley encephalitis virus, West Nile virus kunjin subtype and Japanese encephalitis virus, which can manifest as neurological disease in humans,” Mr Rickart said.

COLLECTION: Hannah Dawes, Acting Director of Nursing at Karumba Primary Health Clinic undertakes the fortnightly mosquito trapping at Karumba.

COLLECTION: Hannah Dawes, Acting Director of Nursing at Karumba Primary Health Clinic undertakes the fortnightly mosquito trapping at Karumba.

“Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, which are responsible for over a thousand cases annually in Queensland, are also targeted.

“The surveillance gives the Public Health Unit early warning of virus emergence and plays an important role in understanding and responding to mosquito-borne disease in Queensland,” he said.

Mosquitoes are attracted to CO2, and once trapped in the CO2 baited box traps, they feed on honey-soaked cards where their saliva is collected.

NWHHS Environmental Health Officer Michelle Newman monitors the two traps in Mount Isa which are located on both sides of the town, close to the river.

“The surveillance system helps us know what we’re dealing with in terms of mosquito-borne diseases in this region,” Ms Newman said.