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Volunteers needed to protect Ingham from dengue

4th December 2018

Please see below Townsville Hospital and Health Service Media Release, released 3 December 2018. 

Volunteers needed to protect Ingham from dengue The ‘Dengue Safe Project Ingham’ is calling on volunteers to help potentially eliminate the risk of the virus from North Queensland.

The aim of the project is to release dengue-safe mosquitoes throughout the residential areas of Ingham in a bid to eliminate the risk of the virus from North Queensland.

Townsville Public Health Unit Director Dr Steven Donohue said the project had begun recruiting volunteers to have egg containers with the Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes in their backyards.

“Once we have final go-ahead from the community, those volunteers will really make it happen,” he said.

“It is just a matter of having one of our public health team come and put a container, or a monitoring trap, in your yard – most people won’t even know that it is there.

“We need about 400 volunteers and this is absolutely crucial in ensuing we get adequate coverage of these Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes throughout the township.”

Dengue safe Aedes aegypti mosquitos carry a type of bacteria called Wolbachia which is common and naturally occurring in most Australian insects and is harmless to humans. This makes the mosquito unable to transmit dengue and other viruses including chikungunya and Zika.

Dr Donohue said the project was an exciting opportunity to eliminate the debilitating dengue virus from North Queensland.

"Ingham is really the final gap we have in North Queensland that we are hoping to close through this project,” he said.

“Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes have been successfully introduced in Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Innisfail, Tully and Charters Towers and there has been a drastic reduction in both the frequency and size of local outbreaks. “We are within touching distance of eliminating outbreaks of dengue in North Queensland, which is so exciting.”

Dr Donohue said volunteering was easy with a major community engagement campaign underway and a comprehensive collection of materials about the project available online.

‘Dengue Safe Project Ingham’ staff will be at Conroy Hall from 7am until 12.30pm this Saturday providing information about the project and seeking volunteers. They will also be at Mercer Lane on 13 December from 4.30pm until 8.30pm.

“This is just the start of an ongoing information program and we look forward to working closely with the local community,” Dr Donohue said.

"The proposed release of Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes is in early 2019." Dr Donohue said anyone interested in the project can visit https://www.health.qld.gov.au/townsville/services/tropical-public-health/ingham-denguesafe/dengue-safe or call 1800 336 483.

Further project updates can also be accessed through a tab on the left-hand side of the Townsville Hospital and Health Service’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/townsvillehhs/ Dengue Safe Project Ingham is a partnership between Townsville Hospital and Health Services (THHS), Hinchinbrook Shire Council and the World Mosquito Program (WMP) to protect the Ingham community from mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya

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