A breakthrough experiment to control the spread of dengue fever will expand to inner-city Cairns communities in the new year if enough residents support the initiative.
Eliminate Dengue staff started door knocking yesterday in Parramatta Park, Westcourt, Edge Hill and Whitfield to garner community support for the latest field trials.
Their experiment involves infecting the dengue-carrying aedes aegypti mosquito with a bacteria called wolbachia, which makes the insects incapable of transmitting the deadly dengue virus to humans.
The mosquitoes are then released into the wild, where they mate with native mosquitoes and spread the wolbachia bacteria.
The Eliminate Dengue team has had success in four other suburbs on the northern and southern outskirts of Cairns since launching field trials in September 2010, but have not yet ventured towards the city centre.
"We're wanting to see if we can establish wolbachia in more populated and less contained areas of the inner-city suburbs of Cairns," Cairns field trial manager Andrew Turley said.
Parramatta Park resident Stacey Joseph didn't hesitate to sign up to host a mosquito trap at her home. "We were really eager to help them because we need to eradicate dengue," she said.
Eliminate Dengue is an international research project led by Monash, Melbourne and James Cook universities and partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr Turley said the next trial in the new year would use the same strain of wolbachia that was released at Yorkeys Knob and Gordonvale during the 2011 wet season, which garnered impressive results.