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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012, Article ID 325659, 8 pages
Review Article

Evolution of Mosquito-Based Arbovirus Surveillance Systems in Australia

1Public Health Virology, Communicable Diseases Unit, Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services, 39 Kessels Rd, Coopers Plains, Queensland 4108, Australia
2Discipline of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009, Australia
3School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitative Services, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland 4870, Australia

Received 2 November 2011; Accepted 7 December 2011

Academic Editor: Bradley J. Blitvich

Copyright © 2012 Andrew F. van den Hurk et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Control of arboviral disease is dependent on the sensitive and timely detection of elevated virus activity or the identification of emergent or exotic viruses. The emergence of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in northern Australia revealed numerous problems with performing arbovirus surveillance in remote locations. A sentinel pig programme detected JEV activity, although there were a number of financial, logistical, diagnostic and ethical limitations. A system was developed which detected viral RNA in mosquitoes collected by solar or propane powered CO2-baited traps. However, this method was hampered by trap-component malfunction, microbial contamination and large mosquito numbers which overwhelmed diagnostic capabilities. A novel approach involves allowing mosquitoes within a box trap to probe a sugar-baited nucleic-acid preservation card that is processed for expectorated arboviruses. In a longitudinal field trial, both Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses were detected numerous times from multiple traps over different weeks. Further refinements, including the development of unpowered traps and use of yeast-generated CO2, could enhance the applicability of this system to remote locations. New diagnostic technology, such as next generation sequencing and biosensors, will increase the capacity for recognizing emergent or exotic viruses, while cloud computing platforms will facilitate rapid dissemination of data.