Mozzie monitoring? Look in your own backyard!
Forget catching Pokemon, it's trapping mozzies that will soon be sweeping through the suburbs south of Brisbane!
But, while you can't train these creatures, you can help Queensland Health conduct important research to confirm that mozzies that can spread Zika and dengue have not invaded South East Queensland.
In a world first, Queensland Health today announced plans for an in-home trial to provide participating residents with a mosquito egg collection kit to sample domestic mosquitoes at their house. Eggs would then be sent to Queensland Health for DNA analysis.
Project Manager Brian Montgomery said this pilot project could completely revolutionise the way domestic mosquito monitoring is conducted.
"These mosquitoes don't fly very far from breeding sites, so finding them in the early stage of invasion into large cities would be like finding a needle in a haystack," Mr Montgomery said.
"For the past two years we have been monitoring egg traps through the Brisbane City Council area but it’s very time and resource intensive to collect samples from relatively few sites. And, it's just not possible to get through the very large suburban areas this way.
"Although the Aedes aegypti mosquito is not believed to be in large population areas of South East Queensland, we need to find new ways to increase confidence it is not here and detect any invasions as early as possible.
"That's why we're inviting residents in the trial area to be 'Zika mozzie seekers' as this is the type of mosquito that spreads diseases such as dengue and Zika.
"We've developed a new methodology that allows us to rapidly detect the DNA of one Aedes aegypti egg in a sample of 5,000 eggs from local species. It's a great start, but we need to increase the intensity of sampling and the size of the area we are working in and we need the communities help to do this."
For this trial project, Queensland Health will be calling on residents in the Brisbane Metro South Hospital and Health Service area to participate in the project.
"Participating residents would provide their contact details. We would send out a mosquito egg collection kit, which is essentially a way to collect eggs from a small container that is partially filled with water as this is the sort of environment they breed in," he said.
"Typically we anticipate we will need to nominate a collection period of about two weeks to put the mosquito trap out. We'll then send a reminder when it is time for trial participants to send their samples in and they will be processed by the department.
"Once the results are received we intend to feedback results including an estimate of egg numbers plus an 'all clear' for the Aedes aegypti mosquito."
Queensland Health Executive Director of Communicable Diseases Dr Sonya Bennett said Queensland was leading the nation when it came to mosquito research.
"The 12th Mosquito Control Association of Australia and Arbovirus Research in Australia is currently on at the Gold Coast," Dr Bennett said.
"Queensland Health is extremely well-represented there with an astonishing seven experts presenting about their work, including Brian Montgomery presenting about mosquito trapping project.
"This project is important because being able to quickly and more efficiently identify Aedes aegypti mosquito eggs will mean we have a better chance of controlling the mosquito, particularly in areas where it is not present in large numbers and stopping the spread of Zika and dengue viruses."Metro South Hospital and Health Service will be taking expressions of interest from local residents keen to participate in the project later this year.