Researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) have developed a new system for public health officials to monitor for outbreaks of Ross River virus disease and Barmah Forest virus disease.
The VEDS (vector-borne disease early detection and surveillance) system is a joint venture between QIMR and Queensland Health to provide timely data about the prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases within Local Government Areas in Queensland.
Dr Michelle Gatton, Head of QIMR’s Malaria Drug Resistance and Chemotherapy Laboratory said, “The system is a valuable tool for public health officials to track the incidence of these diseases in their local area.”
“The VEDS system is an online tool that shows the number of confirmed cases of Ross River and Barmah Forest virus disease weekly in each region. The data can be viewed as raw numbers of cases, or presented in a graphical format which highlights when the number of cases is higher than expected for that time of year for the area.”
“The areas affected by an unusually high number of cases are indicated on a map of Queensland, to allow public health officials to monitor neighbouring regions for increased risk of disease. Providing a system which identifies increased disease patterns allows public health officials to issue area-specific warnings to local residents to take extra precautions against mosquito bites and reduce household breeding sites.”
“Because there is no specific treatment for either Ross River fever or Barmah Forest virus disease, the best defence is to prevent mosquito bites and control the mosquito populations. The VEDS system can also allow local governments to tighten their mosquito control programs if the number of cases of these diseases is unusually high.”
“It also allows governments a way to measure the effectiveness of a particular program of mosquito control by monitoring the levels of mosquito-borne disease in their area.”
The VEDS system is available at http://veds.qimrberghofer.edu.au