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Exotic Mosquito Suspected in Used Machinery

12 March 2001

Exotic Mosquito Suspected in Used Machinery

A trapping programme is underway at ports in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, following the discovery of larvae and a dead adult exotic mosquito, suspected to be Aedes albopictus, the Asian Tiger Mosquito.

Aedes albopictus is an unwanted organism that may be a vector for dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever.

Dr Bob Boyd, chief technical officer for biosecurity in the Ministry of Health, said the larvae and dead adult were found at Queens Wharf in Auckland during routine inspections by MAF quarantine staff. They were inspecting used vehicles and machinery as it was unloaded from a vessel from Japan. "The larvae and dead adult were found in a bucket on concrete pumping truck. The bucket has since been treated with kerosene, chlorine and pyrethrum and the vehicle has been fumigated. All other vehicles on board the vessel have been checked and traps have been set within the wharf area.

"To date no other exotic mosquitoes have been found in the area."

Dr Boyd said New Zealand taxonomy experts suspect the exotic mosquito could be Aedes albopictus. The samples have been sent to Australia for further examination and comment before a conclusive identification is made.

"We expect to have a response from Australia later this week. In the meantime precautionary measures have been put in place."

"The vessel was due to arrive in ports at Wellington and Christchurch today. Health Protection Officers and MAF officials will meet the vessel upon arrival for further inspection.

"No used vehicles or machinery will be permitted to leave the port until check and cleared by MAF quarantine staff, and any dirty or contaminated vehicles will be fumigated or steam cleaned prior to clearance. Traps will also be set at both Wellington and Christchurch as an extra precaution"

END

For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277-5411 Internet address: http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

There has never been an outbreak of New Zealand acquired mosquito-borne disease in New Zealand.

Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito was previously intercepted on goods from a docked ship in Auckland in January 1998. They were also intercepted on imported used vehicles at the Port of Wellington in August 1998.

Exotic mosquitos are most likely to enter New Zealand by way of:

deck cargo on international ships water storage and open containers on fishing boats and yachts used tyres and other imported goods.

Current border control programmes involve MAF quarantine staff, which are the front line defence in the search for exotic organism at the border. Public health staff undertake surveillance, and respond to any detection of exotic mosquitoes of public health significance. Surveillance programmes are underway at all international sea and air ports.

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