Gayle wanted to see as much of Australia as she could. As she travelled, she worked as a nurse and a barmaid, and on a farm for a while milking cows, looking after bees and painting sheds.
I really enjoyed that, but eventually I arrived in Cairns and never left. I just knew when I got here to Cairns that it was the place for me,” she says. “As a nurse, I knew how sick people can get from dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases, but I wanted to live in the tropics.”
Early on, though, Gayle didn’t know anything about dengue. She’d seen malaria when her partner got it twice while they were driving a different Kombi around Africa. But back in Australia, when she started nursing in an agency, they sent her all over, including Indigenous communities in far north Queensland. That’s when she saw and heard about a lot of cases from the Tropical Public Health Services. In 2009, she was working in a Cairns clinic when there was a big outbreak.
Gayle is a big fan of the World Mosquito Program Wolbachia method. She’s seen the results in Cairns where there’s hardly been any dengue for years, just a small number of cases where people have brought it back with them from overseas.
“I think it’s wonderful because I spend so much time in the garden and now I’m unlikely to get dengue. Everybody still has to take precautions against mosquitoes, but I’m not always thinking to myself that I could get dengue, which makes a big difference,” she says.
She’s hosted a mosquito trap just outside her door in the carport for years; first an unpowered trap and then one that needed power. She gets excited when she finds out how many mosquitoes are in the trap and how many other insects, particularly when there are mosquitoes that have Wolbachia.
"I think it’s wonderful. It’s helping to prevent dengue and it started in Cairns and now it’s gone worldwide. I can keep on gardening and walking and travelling,” she says.
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