UQ student urges QLD Health to adopt Brazilian Dengue controls31 March 2009

UQ Masters student Frederico Muzzi said Queensland Health should consider adopting Brazilian preventative measures to control Dengue fever. Mr Muzzi said the ongoing mosquito monitoring systems used by Brazilian City Councils would assist Queensland Health to control Dengue hot spots. "There is a need for a broader network to monitor mosquito populations and behavioural patterns throughout the year. This will allow Queensland Health to make regional comparisons and track the movement of mosquitoes, particularly those bought to Australia from the Torres Strait," he said. Brazilian health authorities use year-round hand-held mobile technology to publish mosquito population figures on global databases. "With accurate data we can predict thresholds that are dangerous to the population and initiate direct control actions such as spraying breeding grounds," he said. Mr Muzzi is among Dengue fever experts across the country, including scientists at UQ, who believe contemporary trends are encouraging mosquito breeding. "The rise of water tanks in metropolitan areas provides ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes, particularly when these tanks begin to deteriorate. We also have to consider how global warming will allow mosquitoes to move south, beyond Brisbane and into Sydney and even Melbourne," he said. Mr Muzzi said Queensland Health also needs to follow Brazil's lead and implement mosquito traps in airports. "We now have increasing numbers of Australians returning from overseas Dengue regions such as South East Asia and arriving in the Cairns international airport. Cairns has ideal Dengue conditions, so when the disease is bought into North Queensland it spreads," he said. With the current Dengue outbreak being the fastest spreading in Australian history, Mr Muzzi urged the Queensland Government to implement a suitable monitoring system quickly and to make data easily accessible to health authorities and to the public. "Controlling Dengue fever is a joint effort from the population and the government. Queensland Health has focused on encouraging residents to spray gardens and remove pools of water, but this is not enough." "It needs to move beyond a counselling role and enforce long running mechanisms before Dengue fever becomes endemic, like it is in Brazil," he said. Mr Muzzi is a student in the UQ Master of Technology and Innovation Management program and is currently writing a thesis on how the interaction of Brazilian Bio-technology networks affect innovation.