School of Medical and Health Sciences
(1) Background: Vector-borne diseases are a significant public health problem in Western Australia. Mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of a number of pathogens and may pose a serious nuisance problem. Prevention efforts in the State are multi-faceted and include physical, chemical, and cultural control methods for restricting mosquito breeding. This is less complex where breeding areas are located within public open spaces. In Australia’s developed urban areas, breeding sites are, however, frequently located within private residential landholdings, where the scope of public health officials to act is constrained by law and practicality. Consequently, mosquito prevention in these locations is predominantly the responsibility of the residents. This research addressed a gap, both in understanding the degree to which “backyard” mosquito breeding has the potential to contribute to local mosquito problems, and in assessing what residents “think and do” about mosquito control within their home environment. (2) Methods: The study was conducted in the Town of Bassendean, a metropolitan Local Government Area of Perth, Western Australia, in close proximity to two natural, productive mosquito breeding sites, namely Ashfield Flats and Bindaring Park. A total of 150 householders were randomly surveyed during the summer of 2015–2016, to gauge residents’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP (knowledge, attitudes, and practices) Survey) in regards to mosquitoes, their breeding and ecology, and avoidance or minimization strategies. The survey comprised nine questions covering residents’ knowledge (3 questions), attitudes (3 questions), and practices (3 questions), as well as additional questions regarding the basic demographics of the resident. Larvae were collected from backyard containers and reared to adults for species identification. A series of Encephalitis Vector Surveillance carbon dioxide (EVS CO2) traps were also deployed, to assess adult mosquito density and species composition. (3) Results: Aedes notoscriptus (Skuse), a known container-inhabiting species, accounted for just over 50% of all mosquitoes identified. Most residents were aware of mosquito-borne disease and its risk in their local area. While the majority (79%) of the sample correctly identified Ross River virus as the most common infection in WA, a significant gap in the general knowledge of residents in regards to mosquito biology and breeding habits, was noted. Furthermore, only 50% of residents reported using personal protective measures to reduce mosquito bites and only one in six residents undertook physical or chemical mosquito control around their home. Additionally, 60% of respondents believed that mosquito control was “a job for the council and the state government”, rather than for individual householders. (4) Conclusions: A significant gap in the knowledge of residents in the study area existed in regards to the general knowledge of mosquitoes and their breeding habits; types of treatments that could be employed within the home; and the residents’ responsibility for the management of mosquito breeding on their private property. A public education campaign has been deployed to educate the residents.
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