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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Queensland boosts Zika virus response

    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Thursday, February 04, 2016

    Queensland boosts Zika virus response

    Queensland will boost measures to combat mosquito breeds responsible for the spread of Zika virus and Dengue fever.

    Minister for Health and Ambulance Service Cameron Dick announced the measures following a specially convened roundtable of public health and infectious disease experts today.

    “Expert advice is that Zika virus is not currently circulating in Queensland,” Mr Dick said.

    “We want to keep it that way.”

    Mr Dick said the roundtable had agreed to two immediate measures to help boost Queensland’s response.

    The State Government will spend $400,000 to increase the capacity of its laboratories – including one in Townsville – to rapidly test for Zika virus in humans.

    This will be the first time that testing for the Zika virus in humans will occur in Townsville.

    Queensland Health will also spend $1 million to develop a new campaign to educate people on the vital role they can play in reducing the spread of mosquitoes. The campaign would target both Dengue and Zika virus.

    Mr Dick said that he intended to contact Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley to brief her and to request federal support.

    Mr Dick said local councils also had an important role to play. 

    “Officers of the Federal Government have indicated that they are prepared to support Queensland’s moves, but there are several areas where the Federal Government as well as local councils needs to be involved,” he said.

    Mr Dick said experts from Queensland Health would also examine the measures already in place to help battle the spread of the mosquito species Aedes aegypti.

    The current program includes extensive state-wide mosquito-borne disease prevention and control to address both imported and locally acquired cases of mosquito-borne diseases.

    Under this program, regular mosquito eradication campaigns are conducted, in conjunction with local government to control mosquito populations. These campaigns are generally conducted during the summer period from January to March.

    Additional targeted eradication measures are undertaken as required in areas where cases of mosquito-borne diseases have been identified.

    In northern Qld, where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is prevalent, these campaigns are supported by a specialised team known as the Dengue Action Response Team.

    Their responsibilities include inspecting households for potential mosquito-breeding grounds as well as travelling to areas where mosquito populations have been identified.

    While no cases of locally-acquired Zika virus have been reported in Queensland, health authorities across the globe have raised concerns about the potential impact the virus may have on pregnant women.

    Mr Dick said while minimising the potential influx of Zika into Australia was vital, the increased funding would also help expand efforts to combat Dengue and another less common disease, chikungunya.

    “Every dollar we spend combatting Zika virus is also money well-spent on fighting Dengue,” Mr Dick said.

    “I want Queenslanders to get to know the name Aedes aegypti.

    “That mosquito breed is enemy – and target – number one.”

    Mr Dick said health experts in Queensland would work closely with the Commonwealth Government to ensure a consistent and coordinated approach to tackling the risk of Zika virus spreading in Australia.

    ENDS

    MEDIA CONTACT:   Anna Jabour 0429 890 942

     

    About the Zika virus

    • Zika can be transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito, primarily Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
    • In Queensland the Aedes aegypti mosquito is endemic to north Queensland and has also been found in some towns in central and south west Queensland.
    • The Aedes albopictus mosquito is currently confined to the Torres Strait in Australia.
    • Zika is currently spreading in certain tropical regions of the globe, but there have been no cases of locally-acquired Zika virus reported in Queensland.
    • There have been 10 imported cases since 2014
    • Zika is not present in local mosquitoes but it is spread by the same species responsible for Dengue fever