Efforts to protect the Peninsula from the Buruli ulcer continue

Published on 17 February 2021


Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), partners in the Beating Buruli in Victoria research project, are starting a trial of targeted mosquito control in the high-risk areas of Blairgowrie and Rye.
Cases of Buruli Ulcer have increased significantly in Victoria in recent years, particularly along the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas. Research has shown areas where humans are most frequently contracting Buruli Ulcer are areas where possums and mosquitoes are most frequently carrying the causative bacteria.
This State and Federal Government funded trial incorporates a new approach, addressing community concerns raised in 2019 around the use of spraying to control mosquitoes.
This safer alternative is mosquito specific and does not involve spraying or pose any risk to bees, wildlife, or any other insects.
The study and associated control measures will include:

  • Education campaigns to ensure homeowners are not unintentionally creating breeding habitats for mosquitos.
  • Use of non-toxic traps called Gravitraps that reduce mosquito numbers in and around homes. These traps are sustainable, non-toxic and have been used worldwide to effectively reduce mosquito numbers.
  • Use of commercial, non-toxic mosquito-specific larvicides in backyard breeding sites such as rain-water tanks, septic tanks, ponds, and bird baths. These larvicides are not toxic to humans, pets, or other animals. They are also recommended by the World Health Organization as safe for use in drinking water supplies to control container-breeding mosquitoes.

The study team is putting the call out to residents in Blairgowrie and Rye to participate in the trial with the aim to recruit approximately 500 households.
Around 250 of these recruited households will be classified as ‘intervention zones’, where approving landowners will permit 10 Gravitraps to be placed within their property and allow the project team to regularly inspect the traps.
The remaining 250 houses will be control zones where no activities will occur. Comparing mosquito numbers in the two zones will allow us to measure the effectiveness of the intervention.
The project team will begin knocking on doors to recruit households throughout Blairgowrie and Rye on 27 February 2021.
To measure the success of the intervention, Ovitraps will also be placed on public land along fence lines in Blairgowrie and Rye. This will allow researchers to count and analyse mosquito eggs in an unintrusive and sustainable way.

Online information session

The Doherty Institute will be running an online information session for community members who would like to learn more on Thursday 25 February 2021 from 6 – 7pm.
Click here to register your attendance in advance of the meeting.
After registering, you will receive an email confirmation containing information about joining the meeting.

Stay safe

Residents and visitors are reminded to protect themselves from possible sources of Buruli ulcer transmission by:

  • Avoiding insect bites by using suitable insect repellents and long clothing, especially during the warmer months
  • Wearing gardening gloves, long-sleeved shirts and trousers when gardening or working outdoors
  • Protecting cuts or abrasions with sticking plasters
  • Promptly washing and covering any scratches or cuts received while outdoors
  • Seeing your doctor if you have a skin lesion and mention the possibility of Buruli ulcer

For more information

To learn more about the project or about the Buruli Ulcer visit www2.health.vic.gov.au/beatingburuli.
If you’d like to participate in the trial, please email Dr Peter Mee at peter.mee@unimelb.edu.au or sign up at forms.gle/exeTCvWZAYwhng2F9

Quotes attributable to Mayor Councillor Despi O’Connor:
“We heard the community’s concerns in 2019 and hope this new method will not only keep our environment safe but will also continue the progress in protecting the Mornington Peninsula from the Buruli ulcer.”
“The Shire will continue to work with and support the Beating Buruli in Victoria project to help the spread of the Buruli ulcer come to an end.”
“We’d like to thank in advance those community members who will help this research by participating in the trial.”
Quotes attributable to Professor Tim Stinear from the Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne:
“We are very pleased to be able to continue our close partnership with the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council on this world-leading research.”
“With strong community engagement, we have an opportunity to understand and control the spread of this terrible disease for the first time.”
“Beyond the Mornington Peninsula, the lessons learned from this study will inform Buruli ulcer control efforts worldwide.”


As part of the ongoing Beating Buruli in Victoria project, a mosquito control study is planned for parts of the Mornington Peninsula. The study will involve mosquito surveillance, mosquito trapping and mosquito control activities.
The study is being informed with advice from public health physicians, medical entomologists, council staff and research partners.
The Beating Buruli in Victoria project aims to disrupt the transmission of Buruli ulcer and lead to evidence-based policies and guidelines to help stop its spread.
The project is being conducted through a collaborative partnership between the Doherty Institute (University of Melbourne), Barwon Health, Austin Health, Agriculture Victoria, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Frankston City Council, Bayside City Council and Victoria’s Department of Health. The project is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Health and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Tagged as: