Dengue fever is making a significant comeback globally and its control still depends largely on residents’ actions. Community awareness and education are central to its management; however, programmes have had limited impact, because they are often based on short-term research and limited awareness of the socio-ecological contexts wherein local knowledge of dengue and its vectors (lay entomology) is produced and enacted in and through place. Long-term studies of lay knowledge of dengue vectors are very rare, even though they are essential to the development of effective, targeted community education campaigns and mobilisation. In this paper, we examine the popular belief that dengue vector, Aedes aegypti, is ubiquitous in the north Australian landscape and demonstrate how local typologies of water are central to the reasoning underwriting this assumption. We show how these logics are fortified by people’s lived experiences of mosquitoes and the watery abodes they are thought to reside in, as well as through key messages from health education. We posit that long term, context-sensitive research approaches are better able to identify, understand and later address and challenge assumptions and may be more effective at informing, empowering and mobilizing the public to combat dengue fever.
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- Dengue fever
- Lay entomologies
- Lay knowledge
- Medical anthropology