Key messages

  • Some mosquitoes can carry arboviruses, which can cause Murray Valley encephalitis, Ross River virus disease and Barmah Forest virus disease.
  • In response to the increased numbers of mosquitoes in Victoria as a result of heavy flooding in 2016-17, the Victorian Government is providing additional funding, advice and support to selected local councils to enhance their mosquito management activities.
  • The Framework for mosquito management in Victoria includes information about legislation, risk management, mosquito management and developing a local management program.

Since 1974, the Victorian Government has worked with other agencies including selected local governments to deliver an integrated mosquito management program. This includes surveillance activities to monitor mosquito numbers and to test mosquitoes for viruses, mosquito control, investigations of infections of mosquito-borne diseases in humans, and community education to reduce mosquito bites.

Enhanced mosquito management activities

In response to the floods and increased mosquito numbers observed throughout summer of 2016-17, mosquito management activities were enhanced BY:

  • increasing flocks of sentinel chickens across Western, Central and Northern Victoria to detect early signs of mosquito-borne disease
  • expanding mosquito surveillance and control, including in twelve new councils, to reduce mosquito breeding
  • testing trapped mosquitoes for diseases including Ross River virus and Murray Valley encephalitis virus using cutting-edge techniques
  • investigating early signs of disease by reviewing the cause of illness in sick horses
  • increasing community information through the Beat the Bite campaign. 

Additional funding to local councils 

The Victorian Government has provided additional funding to 18 councils under the Victorian Government’s Arbovirus Disease Control Program to enhance their mosquito management activities. The selected councils were heavily impacted by the 2016 Victorian floods and were assessed as being at significantly increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

It is up to each council to determine the measures best suited to their needs, but the focus is on reducing the risk of spread of mosquito-borne diseases, including Ross River virus and Murray Valley encephalitis virus. Activities might include trapping adult mosquitoes, testing sentinel chickens, larviciding and fogging. 

As well as the additional funding, the government is providing advice and scientific services to the 18 councils to expand and extend their existing programs, or to implement new surveillance and control activities where needed. These activities will control mosquito breeding and biting, reducing the potential impact of mosquito-borne diseases on the community.

The councils to be funded are:  Buloke, Campaspe, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Indigo, Loddon, Mildura, Moira, Mount Alexander, Northern Grampians, Swan Hill, Wangaratta, West Wimmera, Wodonga and Yarriambiack.

About arborvirus diseases

More than 275 species of mosquitoes are found in Australia. Fortunately, only a few species bite humans, and fewer still are vectors of human diseases.

Arboviruses are viruses transmitted by arthropods (arthropod-borne viruses). In Australia, the main arthropod vector is the mosquito. In Victoria, arbovirus diseases include:

Other arbovirus diseases reported in Victoria (such as dengue fever) have been acquired interstate or overseas.

Ross River and Barmah Forest virus diseases

Both Ross River virus disease and Barmah Forest virus disease are considered endemic throughout Victoria. The number of cases per year varies widely, depending on seasonal and other conditions

Ross River virus disease and Barmah Forest virus disease can be debilitating, but are not fatal.

Murray Valley encephalitis

Murray Valley encephalitis can be fatal. Major Murray Valley encephalitis outbreaks occurred in 1918, 1951 and 1956 in Victoria. The most recent reported cases were in 1974. In that year, 58 cases were recorded, 13 of which were fatal.

Mosquito management framework

Framework for mosquito management in Victoria provides guidance for the development of mosquito management programs throughout the state. The framework provides information about legislation, risk management, mosquito management and developing a local management program.