Mosquitoes are prevalent in most parts of the world, the East Kimberley is not an exemption. The East Kimberley provides a perfect environment for mosquito breeding, particularly with the high rainfall and increased temperatures experienced during the wet season. These insects can be the carriers of diseases which have adverse effects on human life.

Mosquito Management

The Shire undertakes mosquito management activities in accordance with the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley Mosquito Management Plan (MMP), which was adopted by Council in August 2016.

The MMP has been developed in consultation with the WA Department of Health Medical Entomology team. In September 2015 a review of the Shire’s mosquito management activities was conducted by a Medical Entomologist from the Northern Territory. The recommendations from this review were also incorporated into the MMP. A copy of this report is available here

The Shire currently takes the following actions to address the risk of mosquito borne illness:

  • Participation in the Sentinel Chicken program
  • Monitoring of adult mosquito populations
  • Monitoring mosquito-borne infectious disease notifications
  • Monitoring mosquito breeding sites and application of larvicide where necessary
  • Application of residual adulticide to public areas

Spraying of adulticide (fogging) may also be used when disease risk is high.  This decision is made in consultation with the Department of Health Medical Entomology team.

If you are experiencing problems with mosquitoes at your home or workplace and wish to have an officer investigate please complete a Mosquito Nuisance Complaint Form. If you have any questions or require further information about mosquito management, please contact an Environmental Health Officer on 9168 4100.

Fight the Bite

Residents of the Kimberley region are being encouraged to 'Fight the Bite' as part of a ‘Healthy WA’ campaign to reduce the mosquito population and the incidence of mosquito-borne disease. The Fight the Bite campaign (Healthy WA) is aimed at reducing mosquito-borne diseases that afflict individuals, communities and the healthcare system.

The three central messages are to:

  • cover up
  • repel (use repellent)
  • clean up areas around the home where mosquitoes can breed.

Other precautions that can be taken to avoid mosquito bites are:

  • Wear protective (long, loose-fitting, light-coloured) clothing covering as much of the body as you can when outdoors;
  • Apply an effective personal repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (PMD) evenly to all areas of exposed skin and always follow the label instructions;
  • Avoiding outdoor exposure, particularly at dawn and early evening, in all areas of high mosquito activity;
  • Ensuring insect screens are installed and completely mosquito-proof: use mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents.
  • Ensuring infants and children are adequately protected against mosquito bites, preferably with suitable clothing, bed nets or other forms of insect screening;
  • Keep grass/weeds short to stop mosquitoes seeking shelter and hiding around the home.

Refer to the Department of Health information sheet ‘Mosquitoes in Your Backyard’ for some ways to keep your property free of mosquito breeding areas.

Mosquito-borne Diseases in WA

The most common mosquito-borne diseases in WA are Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, which can lead to tiredness, severe joint swelling and pain that can continue for weeks, months or even years. Other less common, but more serious diseases which are present in the Kimberley include Murray Valley encephalitis virus and West Nile virus (Kunjin subtype). In 2022, evidence of a new mosquito-borne virus, called Japanese encephalitis virus, was also detected in the east Kimberley region.

Whilst there is no cure or vaccine for Ross River, Barmah Forest, Murray Valley or West Nile (Kunjin subtype) viruses, there is a vaccine available for Japanese encephalitis. To see if you are eligible for a free Japanese encephalitis vaccine, visit the Healthy WA website.

It is important to note that the Japanese encephalitis vaccine does not protect against other mosquito-borne viruses. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Mosquito-borne Diseases Elsewhere

Other mosquito-borne diseases that can be acquired overseas include the Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses. Dengue can also be acquired in northern Queensland. These viruses are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. WA does not have local populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and there is currently no risk of local transmission for these exotic mosquito-borne diseases in WA.

These diseases are typically present in tropical countries and any WA travellers to these regions should take personal protective measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Travellers should seek medical advice or consult before travelling to high risk countries.

Further information on protecting yourself from mosquito-borne disease while travelling can be found at the Healthy WA website.

Sentinel Chicken Program

The WA Department of Health runs a sentinel chicken program which is carried out by local governments and other relevant stakeholders. The program works as an early indicator of mosquito-borne virus activity in the area. Blood samples are taken from a flock of chickens in Wyndham and Kununurra every month in the dry season and every fortnight in the wet season.

The samples are analysed for Murray Valley Encephalitis, West Nile (Kunjin subtype) and Japanese encephalitis viruses. The detection of antibodies in the chicken blood to any of the viruses indicates activity within the area and gives a ‘heads up’ to the public so extra precautions can be taken to minimise risk of the disease.