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Mosquito disease, high danger
WA Department of Health Mosquito disease, high danger

The Australian Medical Association has criticised local governments for not having the drive or determination to deal with mosquito-borne viruses, as the risk of the debilitating Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses skyrockets in the South West.

Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Richard Choong this week criticised the State Government for its handling of mosquito control, demanding it take responsibility for reducing the spread of the viruses.

Mr Choong said some councils had done the job well, but others did not have “the same drive, determination or money available to tackle the issue strongly”.

“Leaving responsibility for spraying in the hands of local government and leaving coordination to an ad hoc committee is not good enough,” Mr Choong said.

Department of Health Environmental Health Hazards Unit managing scientist Mike Lindsay said Mr Choong did not understand the relationship between the Government and local governments with regards to mosquito management.

“There have been situations in the past where we would have liked local governments to do more, but all the high risk areas have very good programs involving local government,’’ Mr Lindsay said.

“To have effective mosquito management, we have to have local management and on the ground surveillance – you can’t do it from afar.’’

Mr Lindsay said local government officers put their “hearts and souls” into reducing the risks of mosquito-borne viruses.

The AMA’s criticism came the same day the Department of Health issued a reminder for people in the South West to take precautions against mosquito bites as unseasonal rainfall had ensured the continued activity of the viruses.

Mr Choong said the reminder would not help win the battle against mosquito-borne viruses.

“Telling people to somehow stay away from mosquitoes would almost be humorous if it wasn’t such a serious health issue,’’ Mr Choong said.