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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Could the Northern Rivers be the next Dengue hotspot?

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Dr Cameron Webb (second from left) and Tweed Shire Council Environmental Health Officer, Kelly Piazza, talk to Pottsville homeowners Bernie Petry and Di Ridoutt about the importance of removing containers and other items that can hold water, to stop the spread of mosquitoes. Photo TSC

As climate change gathers pace, the Northern Rivers could be at a high-risk for invasion by the exotic mosquitoes responsible for Dengue fever due to our proximity to Queensland.

While there are no Dengue mosquitoes in NSW yet, there is potential they could arrive as adults, larvae or eggs from overseas or far north Queensland, where they spread Dengue and other serious diseases.

While there are few ways of stopping the spread of these potentially lethal creatures, there are steps we can all take to prevent mozzies could be breeding in our backyards, courtyards and balconies.

An inspection of 300 backyards in Pottsville and Tweed Heads West in December last year found at least 94 per cent of properties had a least one water-holding container.

Tweed Shire Council Environmental Health Officer Kelly Piazza said habitat inspections revealed that there are abundant opportunities container-inhabiting mosquitoes in the region.

‘Pot plants, buckets and bromeliads were the top three actual and potential container-inhabiting mosquito habitats,’ Ms Piazza said.

‘Even an upturned soft drink bottle lid can contain enough water for mosquitoes to breed – mosquitoes that could be carrying serious diseases.’

Citizen scientists

A new online survey is asking Northern Rivers residents to become ‘citizen scientists’ by counting the number of water-holding containers in their backyards to provide valuable information on breeding habitat in our region.

Dr Cameron Webb from NSW Health Pathology and University of Sydney spent today inspecting local backyards and setting up mosquito traps as part of the project.

‘The important thing about this project is building capacity among the local authorities to be able to better respond to increased mosquito risk and at the same time educate the community to be mindful that it’s not just mosquitoes in the nearby swamps that are the problem, it’s the ones in suburbs and backyards as well,’ Dr Webb said.

‘Everyone can play a part by looking around their backyards and being aware of where mosquitoes might be breeding and take the opportunity to tip them out, cover them up or throw them out.’

If you live in the Northern Rivers, complete the quick survey online and you could win an iPad valued at $425. Check it out at as well as further information on Tweed Council’s website. The survey closes on 23 March 2018.

The data collected through the project will help local government to plan for and prevent the establishment of exotic invasive mosquitoes in the future and the development of Northern Rivers Mosquito Control Plan for the region.

The plan is as part of a $58,400 grant for building resilience to climate change received by Tweed Shire Council from the NSW Government and supported by Local Government NSW. Participating councils include Tweed, Ballina, Byron, Lismore, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley, along with the North Coast Public Health Unit and NSW Health.


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