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Call for public’s help to swat mosquito problem

Call for public’s help to swat mosquito problem

With summer approaching, Auckland City Council and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) are asking the city’s residents to do what they can to stop mosquitoes from breeding on their properties.

New Zealand has had no recorded transmission of serious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, which are spread by mosquito species not present here. Auckland’s port is the highest risk area for the introduction of foreign mosquitoes, which are sometimes found in cargo or ships. More than 600,000 containers arrived at the port in the year to 30 September 2004.

“All materials entering our ports and airports are checked and our isolation acts as a natural barrier against the arrival of unwanted pests,” says Chris Dee, team leader, environmental health, Auckland City. “However, no system is foolproof, and the public can do a lot to stop mosquitoes from surviving and breeding if they do get here.”

Although there are more than 200 varieties in Australia, New Zealand has 16 different types of mosquitoes only. Attention to border control has doubtless prevented more foreign species establishing.

Mosquitoes need water to breed, so the public can help by doing the following on their property:

regularly empty and refill drinking bowls for pets

keep swimming pools well chlorinated, filtered and free of dead leaves

check gutters and drains are free of leaves and blockages

remove rubbish and unnecessary items that lie around outside and hold water

ensure that outdoor equipment and toys do not hold water

screen water tanks and septic tanks

stock ponds with fish that eat mosquito larvae

where practicable, overturn anything outside that could hold water.

Auckland City works with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) to keep mosquitoes under control in the Auckland area. ARPHS disseminates advice about mosquito control, administers quarantine issues and deals with interceptions of foreign species. It also monitors for possible spread of the Southern Saltmarsh Mosquito that is currently being eradicated from NZ. ARPHS is able to have mosquito specimens identified and would like to know about changes in the habits of local mosquito populations.

“It is sensible to avoid being bitten by any mosquitoes,” says ARPHS Health Protection Officer, John Whitmore. “When outdoors, use insect repellent and wear long trousers, long sleeved shirts and enclosed shoes. Inside, try mosquito coils and put screens over open windows and doors.”

It is the owner or occupier’s responsibility to rectify mosquito problems on private property, however Auckland City is able to provide information to assist with this.

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