Monday 16 November 2009

Dengue biting early in Cairns and Townsville

Here we go again. The nasty wee bitey things are out again, ready to suck your blood and make you feel nauseous. No, it's not election time. Dengue mossies are back.

It's only seven weeks since the last Dengue fever epidemic was declared officially over, the largest recorded epidemic in Australia in 50 years, that recorded 931 infections.

A year ago a member of the public walked into the Council office in Spence Street to advise them about a breeding site, and filled in the necessary forms. I exposed the whole dirty affair which showed that the Cairns Regional Council, under the direction of Gill Farrows, was virtually incompetent in reacting to the first mosquito notifications.

It took nearly three weeks to attend to the site in Gatton Street, North Cairns, a short seven minute drive from the Council chambers in Spence Street, or only two minutes from Council Martyn Street Works Depot.

North Cairns became ground zero of the 2008/09 outbreak, where nearly 200 cases were recorded in the first few weeks. It's highly likely that many of these infections emanated from the address in Gatton Street that Council ignored.

This old concrete washing tub, was the scene of the crime. It's since been filled up with tomato plants, but at the time, it was fill to the brim with stagnant water and breeding mosquito larvae. Suggest you read the story about how a Council so easily ignored a vital call for action.

Last week the first case of dengue was reported in Townsville, and three imported cases into Cairns from India, Malaysia and Vietnam. These all occurred in the last few weeks, but fortunately there are no reported locally acquired
cases as yet in Cairns, and therefore no outbreak at present.

Dr Jeffrey Hanna Queensland Health’s Tropical Population Health Services Medical Director said the recent dengue cases were a crucial reminder for north Queensland residents to take action now in preparing for dengue season.

“The dengue epidemic earlier this year was the largest in at least 50 years, and with the recent rains and the warm temperatures leading into the wet season yet to fully arrive, I strongly urge all north Queenslanders to take preventative steps,” said Dr Hanna.

“It is important that people as well as businesses, get rid of mosquito breeding sites around the yard and workplace. We want to ensure people are as prepared as possible this year to avoid a repeat of last year.”

Last year I met Cairns resident, Sasha McGrath, I wanted to write a human interest piece about the Dengue outbreak and allow someone who'd been infected, to tell everyone how it felt and what her symptoms were. All we were hearing before this was the same old stuff about emptying water containers, and the numbers were being pumped out over the radio and in the paper. We may have been becoming immune to it somewhat?

The dengue fever type three epidemic, which began in Cairns in November 2008 and spread across north Queensland.

I hope the Council sit down with Queensland Health this season and get their act together.


  • once a week, residents should check their yard for mosquito breeding. Tip out, flush out, throw away or store dry any containers holding water in which mosquitoes can breed

  • wear appropriate insect repellent to avoid being bitten, especially during the day

  • use indoor surface spray, mozzie zappers and coils around the house to discourage mosquitoes.

  • Common dengue mozzie breeding sites include tyres, buckets, toys and pot plant bases.

  • Residents should also ensure that roof gutters are not blocked and breeding mosquitoes.

  • More information about dengue fever.
For those that saw the comprehensive 1 minute, 40 second report on local TV, here's the full story from Dr Jeffrey Hanna, and Brian Montgomery of Queensland Health. You saw it here first.


Crank said...

The "traditional" media beat you to this last week. Behind the 8-ball as usual, CairnsBlog.

Crankydoodle said...

Hey Mike, he's Crank by name, Crank by nature.

Crank said...

Because the usual rabble commenting on this blog are always so positive ...

Thaddeus said...

Sheeeesh, so I will have to empty my pot plant containers all over again..............