Dr. Cameron Webb runs a blog called Mosquito Research and Management, which is going forthwith into my Bloggers list. Here's his January 29 post: Does Zika virus pose a threat to Australia? Excerpt:
There is little doubt the virus can make it to Australia. There have already been a number of infections reported in travellers arriving in Australia from the Cook Islands and Indonesia.
Mosquito-borne viruses generally aren’t spread from person to person. Only through the bite of an infected mosquito can the virus be transmitted.
In the case of Zika, there have been some unusual cases of transmission, including through sex and the bite of an infected monkey. Despite these unusual circumstances, mosquitoes will still play the most important role in any local transmission.
While dozens of mosquitoes are capable of spreading local mosquito-borne pathogens, such as Ross River virus, only one of the 300 or so mosquitoes found in Australia can transmit Zika virus: Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever Mosquito, which is only found in north Queensland.
The Yellow Fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is critical to the spread of Zika virus in many regions of the world, including Australia.
For local Aedes aegypti to spread Zika virus, they must bite an infected traveller shortly after they return from a country where the virus is circulating.
While the chances of this happening are small, there is then a risk of a local outbreak occurring as the infected mosquito bites people who’ve never left the country.
This is the process that occurs in outbreaks of dengue in Far North Queensland. If we can get outbreaks of dengue, there is no reason we cannot, or won’t, get an outbreak of Zika in the future.
How to reduce the risk of transmission
Fortunately, authorities are well placed to contain an outbreak of Zika virus, as the required strategies are the same as management of dengue outbreaks. Perhaps the real message here for Australian authorities is that they need to work diligently to keep exotic mosquitoes out of the country.
While Aedes aegypti may not become established in southern cities, even with a changing climate, there is great potential that Aedes albopictus, better known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, could become established in southern cities. As well as a vector of Zika virus, it can spread dengue and chikungunya viruses and be a significant nuisance-biting pest. Keeping this mosquito out of our cities is critical.