‘Possibility’ Zika-infected mossies here

HEALTH authorities in central Queensland will today enter people’s backyards and businesses to spray for mosquitoes as they ramp up efforts to stop a Zika virus outbreak in the state.

Health officials last night said a public health declaration would be issued after the virus was found in Rockhampton – an area where the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the virus is present.

Public health officials will go door-to-door in the area to speak to pregnant women about the risk and are encouraging anyone in the area who is unwell to visit their GP to get tested for Zika.

The warnings come after a man returned to Rockhampton from Guyana, in South America, and tested positive to Zika yesterday. He had spent time at The Globe Hotel in Depot Hill, where the Aedes aegypti mosquito has been detected, with mosquito control programs starting at the site last night.

All residents of Depot Hill have been told to wear mosquito repellent at all times to mitigate the health risks.

The man is a fly-in-fly-out worker who travelled to South America for work. He is understood to be confined to his home to ensure he cannot be bitten by a mosquito and spread the virus.

The Courier-Mail understands he arrived home about a week ago but test results were only confirmed yesterday.

The public health declaration to be issued today by Queensland Health will give them the power to enter properties within a 200m radius of The Globe Hotel to spray for mosquitoes. Homes outside that radius are at a reduced risk as the mosquito “is not known to fly very far’’.

Queensland Acting Chief Health Officer Sonya Bennett said Zika virus could be spread if an Aedes aegypti mosquito bit an infected person, became infected and went on to bite another person.

Authorities will enter properties within a 200m radius of The Globe Hotel at Deport Hill to spray for mosquitoes

Dr Bennett said pregnant women in the area would be spoken to. The virus has been linked to birth defects when the mother fell ill during pregnancy.

“Our message to them is to ensure there are no breeding areas for the mosquito around their homes, to use mosquito surface spray inside their homes and to use mosquito repellent containing DEET on their bodies,” she said.

This is the eighth case of Zika in Queensland this year.

The others have all been in the southeast corner of the state, where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is not prevalent.