TRACES of the dengue mosquito have been found in more than half of tested non-compliant rainwater tanks at Goomeri, Gympie Regional Council has revealed.
Using new DNA screening technology, council environment officers undertook extensive testing over the past four months to check for the aedes aegypti mosquito in the town.
The mosquito is a known transmitter of not only dengue, but also zika and the chikungunya virus.
Of 288 properties tested in the program, 42 per cent were found to have defective tanks.
Of those, 36 were tested with 19 revealed to have been breeding grounds for the pest in the past three months.
A council environment officer said the tests – believed to be a first among Queensland councils – gave them a better understanding of the extent of the problem, which in previous years had recorded as “sporadic”.
“We have known it’s been there (since 2004), we just haven’t known to what extent,” she said.
The technology allows for easier testing, which used to involve looking for “wrigglers” in the water.
While the normal “mosquito season” was from September-April, she said the results highlighted the mosquitoes’ pervasiveness.
“In June we were still finding larvae in some of the tanks. They’re still around,” she said.
And they were not restricted to breeding in rainwater tanks.
“It’s a container breeder – that’s why the surveillance efforts are targeted ,” she said. “They need to be around people, they need to be close for blood meals.
“They’re going to be in your pot plant base or your dog dish that you haven’t washed out in a week.”
Avid gardeners were also at risk of leaving standing pools of water lying around which were perfect for the mosquitoes.
Along with helping the council and health officials manage the potential threat of the disease, she said the findings were a good argument for homeowners to make sure their tanks are compliant.
“We’ve worked as far as we can with residents there to rectify any non-compliant tanks.
“Those that haven’t, we’re still trying to achieve compliance and we’ll be following some of the processes of the public health act there to ensure… it is preserved.”