SYDNEY, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Australia may be at risk of a widespread outbreak of Zika or dengue unless more is done to prevent the establishment of mosquitoes that carry these diseases in the country, new studies published under health policy research group Sax Institute showed.
"While we can't prevent people infected with Zika or dengue coming to Australia, we can prevent the establishment of exotic mosquitoes species (such as Aedes aegypti and the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus), so that widespread outbreaks can't occur," Dr Cameron Webb, medical entomologist at Sydney University and for New South Wales health pathology, was quoted as saying in the institute's media release on Thursday.
Zika is an infectious disease mainly spread by the Aedes mosquito and mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other brain malformations in babies. Dengue fever is a tropical disease that is also spread via the Aedes mosquito.
"We need to do more to make sure these exotic mosquitoes don't establish themselves here," said Webb, who is the lead author of the paper published in the institute's Public Health Research & Practice journal.
"With many Australians travelling back and forth to South East Asia, particularly Bali, during the holidays there is a risk they will be exposed to mosquito-borne diseases. Worse still, it is very easy for people to unwittingly bring exotic mosquito eggs back into Australia via water bottles, vases or other belongings."
"If these exotic mosquito species find a way to our suburbs and become established, it creates the perfect conditions for a local outbreak of Zika or dengue."
"We need to expand strategic surveillance to include suburban areas as well as wetlands, so that we're alerted as soon as possible to their presence. With local, State and Federal health authorities working closer together to respond to the discovery of these mosquitoes, we can ensure we remain free of any significant local disease outbreaks," Webb added.