From the Archives : ABC, April 29 2004: Australia has had a crack team protecting Cape York from the incursion of a deadly mosquito-borne disease from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. They’re a bunch of pigs – for the last 5 years ‘sentinel pigs’ have been working for the Australian Quarantine Service as frontline defenders against the incursion of Japanese Encephalitis (JE).
But the pigs are losing their grunt to a mosquito catcher that will trap mozzies and allow scientists to test them to see if they carry the deadly JE. It actually might be more effective because instead of relying on a pig getting bitten by a mosquito, the mosquito trap should be trapping mosquitoes as they come in the country. And if infected mozzies are going to get in anywhere, it will be across the Torres Straight, as it’s only 7km between the northern-most island and PNG. So it’s on Badu island – about halfway between mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea – that the mosquito traps will take up their front-line positions.
The main disadvantage of the sentinel pigs is that it can take two weeks before signs of Japanese encephalitis show up in the pigs blood- that’s a delay they can’t afford. With the traps the presence of Japanese encephalitis can be detected within hours. The new mosquito traps are designed to cut out the pig in the middle.
Read more at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1097357.htm