Urban development and mosquito-borne disease


In November 2012, I presented some of my work associated with Mosquito Risk Assessment and urban planning at the Australian Entomological Society and Australasian Arachnological Society – 2012 Conference, Hobart, Tasmania.

The title of my presentation was “Taking an ecological approach to wetland rehabilitation and urban development to reduce the risks of mosquito-borne disease in Australia“. The abstract is below.

Mosquito-borne disease management in coastal Australia faces many challenges. Increasing urbanisation is bringing the community closer to productive mosquito habitats but environmental management of coastal wetlands is often in conflict with effective mosquito control strategies. Annually abundant pest and vector mosquito populations bring with them the risks of disease caused by Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. Large scale wetland rehabilitation projects are increasing the availability of productive mosquito habitat while also providing refuge for known reservoir hosts (e.g. macropods, birds) of mosquito-borne viruses. Balancing the desire for environmental conservation with the need to protect the health of human communities requires integrated urban design strategies combined with targeted research. While broadscale mosquito control activities are restricted due to unresolved issues associated with potential ecological impacts, local authorities are looking to use planning instruments to minimize the impacts of local mosquitoes by requiring mosquito risk assessments to be conducted by developers, placing stringent controls on constructed water bodies and the incorporation of buffer zones between residential allotments and mosquito habitats. However, the effectiveness of these strategies is often site-specific and is determined by the local mosquito fauna. Potentially important onsite mosquito habitats are also being created through Water Sensitive Urban Design strategies intended to increase water conservation through above- and below-ground water treatment and storage.

Some background to the presentation is presented here.

Following this presentation, an article of mine was published on The Conversation website. “Using urban planning to reduce mosquito-borne disease” discusses many of the issues surrounding urban development and the increasing risk of mosquito-borne disease in Australia.