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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wet weather creates perfect conditions for an itchy summer

The wet weather forecasted for this summer is set to create a bumper season for mosquitoes, and a University of Newcastle competition has sought solutions to stop the itch. 

The Bureau of Meteorology declared a La Niña in late September, signalling a wet spring and summer in northern and eastern Australia.

Hunter New England Public Health Unit Director, Dr David Durrheim, explained it had created the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

“Good rainfall as the warmer summer months approached had resulted in excellent breeding conditions for mosquitoes responsible for spreading Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus,” he said.

Dr Durrheim stressed the only way to avoid infection is to protect against mosquitoes.

“It’s also really important to be cautious when using insect repellents on children,” he said.

“Roll-on repellents are preferable to sprays and should be applied sparingly to exposed skin.”

In a timely move, the University of Newcastle-led ‘Grand Challenge’ has asked teams to develop solutions to manage the global problem of mosquitoes.

Nine teams each received $5,000 to further their proposals, with three further prizes for the people’s choice, social enterprise, and a research project.

Borne Clothing picked up the people’s choice award, for their work creating mosquito repellent clothing. 

Borne donates 50% of its profits to help combat mosquito-born diseases, and co-founder Bal Dhital said it was “very encouraging” to pick up the award.

“People are validating what we have been doing, and that we are promoting something that people want,” he said.

“Getting the people’s choice awards shows that people want to engage with global issues in a more impactful way than gold coin donations.”

Mr Dhital said the backing of Borne’s clothing showed that people are seeking more impactful engagement in global issues.

“Whilst in Australia mosquito bites are an annoyance, the same bites ruin millions of lives all across the globe” he said.

“[The competition] was the opportunity to tackle a global problem at the local level”.

Winners of the university’s Grand Challenge:

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