When a mosquito feeds on blood, it also swallows any viruses or parasites that are in the blood. These viruses and parasites can be transmitted to the next person who bites the mosquito through its saliva.
Any disease that is spread from mosquito to human (or animal) in this way is known as a ‘mosquito-borne disease’.
It can cause immense suffering to people. Mosquito-borne diseases include malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika and now Japanese Encephalitis Virus or JEV.
Experts believe excessive rainfall, flooding and climate change have exacerbated the spread of the potentially deadly JEV.
University of Queensland virologist Jody Peters told ABC News that the way the virus is spreading is surprising. “It breeds very, very quickly during flooding events.”
So what can you do to control mosquitoes around your property and protect your family from mosquito bites?
Remove standing water in your garden
Once a week, empty and scrub, turn or throw out any items that hold water, such as gutters, tires, buckets, planters, toys or garbage cans. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
Close water storage containers (buckets, water tanks) tightly so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
Change water in outdoor pet dishes daily; and change water in birdbaths several times a week.
If you have a septic tank, repair any cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes with very fine mesh.
Move potted plants indoors
Potted plants also tend to fill with excess water, which is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Keep them indoors during the sultry summer months.
Install insect repellent lights
You can install sodium lamps, yellow bug lights or LED lights in your backyard to deter those pesky mozzies. All-in-one outdoor lighting and mosquito repellents can be purchased from home improvement stores.
Install a French drain
A common solution to eliminating standing water around your home is with drainage solutions such as a French drain.
This is a slightly sloping trench filled with gravel around a perforated pipe found at hardware stores.
It provides an easy channel for water to flow through, and collects water along the entire length of the drain instead of one specific spot and then redirects the water away from your home.
Hire a professional
A professional pest controller can spray your garden with an organic treatment. Non-toxic bug control solutions can work wonders and will kill fleas, ticks and other insects as well, while not harming the family pet. Discuss the products you prefer, and also their effectiveness. Let their advice guide you.
Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said the government and agencies were working together to plan the next steps in the fight against the spread of JEV.
“Prevention is always better than a cure and there are simple steps we can all take to avoid our exposure to infected mosquitoes,” Minister Hunt said.
“People in areas of high mosquito activity in eastern Australia should use mosquito repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin. Wear long, loose-fitting clothing when outdoors, and ensure accommodation, including tents, is properly equipped with mosquito nets or screens.”