The La Nina weather event has already brought record rainfall and wet weather to inland parts of Australia, triggering flooding in some areas, and experts warn the conditions could create a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Associate Professor Cameron Webb, from NSW Health Pathology, said mosquitoes were drawn to warm conditions and stagnant water – both of which are predicted over the summer.
Speaking to NCA NewsWire, Dr Webb explained that during average summers mosquitoes tended to be problematic along the coast, but that was expected to change this season.
“High tides and additional rainfall will drive mosquito populations,” he said.
“Inland areas don’t usually experience large numbers of mosquitoes, but that all changes when we enter La Nina.
“Rainfall and flooding in inland areas creates a great opportunity for mosquitoes to take advantage of stagnant ponds left behind when floodwater recedes.”
The influx of mosquitoes is expected to peak around Christmas time and last until late April.
Dr Webb explained that only female mosquitoes bite and tended to (though, not all species) be drawn to humans because of the carbon dioxide they breathe out.
“Then when they get closer it’s the smell of our skin,” he said in relation to what attracts mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are drawn to the smell produced by chemicals and bacteria that is perspired through our skin. Dr Webb said it created a “cocktail of smells mosquitoes” like.
“The cocktail of smells may be more attractive in some people compared to others,” he said.
“We inherit that attractive mozzie smell from our parents, so nothing you eat or drink will stop a mosquito from biting you.”
He urged those prone to getting bitten to take extra precautions this summer, like ensuring they cover every inch of skin with repellent.
There are also concerns of a spike in mosquito-borne illness given the expected rise in numbers.
“We do tend to see an elevated risk of disease when the population is high, but it doesn’t always happen this way,” he said.
“Mosquitos don’t emerge from floodwaters (with disease), they need to pick it (disease) up from a bird or kangaroo (wildlife) first.
“Predicting outbreaks of disease can be very difficult but everyone should be alert.”
The Bureau of Meteorology last week declared a La Nina weather event was under way in the tropical Pacific after weeks of anticipation.
Last summer was also affected by the climate driver, meaning back to back La Ninas for Australia.
The weather bureau issued a La Nina “watch” on September 14, which it ramped up to a La Nina “alert” on October 12.
Much of eastern Australia has been lashed over the past two months by heavy rain and thunderstorms that last week flooded the Lachlan River catchment in the NSW Central West.
The La Nina weather phenomenon, linked to the shifting pattern of sea surface temperatures through the Pacific and Indian oceans, affects rainfall and temperature variations in Australia.
Typically, it is associated with heavier rainfall for eastern, northern and central parts of the country as well as a higher likelihood of tropical cyclones.
Latest Travel News