Ingham community welcomes their first Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes

Ingham has welcomed some new residents into their community: Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes, released as part of the Dengue Safe Project Ingham.

When mosquitoes carry safe and natural Wolbachia bacteria, they have a reduced ability to transmit viruses like dengue, protecting communities from disease outbreaks. The Dengue Safe Project is being implemented by local health authorities, with overwhelming community support.

Townsville Public Health Unit Acting Director, Dr. Julie Mudd says 393 residents agreed to host mosquito release containers in their backyards, while many more have been informed about the project through letters, stalls at local events, door-knocking and a comprehensive survey.

“We’ve really tried to talk face-to-face with as many people as we could over the past couple of months and the feedback we’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive,” Dr. Mudd says.

The project’s reference group Chair, Rodger Bow says that it is an important initiative for Ingham and the community engagement program supporting the project was a great success.

“It’s so fantastic seeing the response to our survey which just shows how much knowledge and engagement the local community has with this project,” Rodger says.

Dr. Mudd is delighted the Dengue Safe project has begun releasing Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes in Ingham, following the World Mosquito Program’s (WMP) promising work in the region. In Australia, the WMP has implemented its Wolbachia method in Cairns, Townsville, Charters Towers, Tully, Innisfail and Port Douglas. After seven years of working in these northern Queensland communities, long-term monitoring shows that Wolbachia is self-sustaining at high levels. In areas where high levels of Wolbachia are present, there has been no evidence of local dengue transmission.

The Dengue Safe Project Ingham is a partnership between Townsville Hospital and Health Service (Townsville HHS), Hinchinbrook Shire Council (HSC) and the World Mosquito Program.

For more information about Dengue Safe, call 1800 336 483 or visit www.health.qld.gov.au/dengue-safe-ingham

You can read more about the WMP’s work in Australia here.