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Exotic Mosquito Confirmed

Media Release

15 October 2001

Exotic Mosquito Confirmed

A trapping programme is underway at ports in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, following the discovery of larvae and pupa cases from the exotic mosquito 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 pupa cases were found at Queens Wharf in Auckland on Sunday during routine inspections by MAF quarantine staff. They were inspecting used vehicles and machinery unloaded from a vessel from Japan.

"The larvae and pupa were found in a used tyre on a pick-up truck that had been off loaded from the ship. The tyre has since been destroyed using kerosene, chlorine and pyrethrum and the vehicle has been fumigated.

"As a precaution traps were set in place immediately within the Auckland wharf area, while we awaited confirmation of the larvae and pupa. Traps were also put in place at Wellington and Christchurch, which were both previous ports of call. To date no other exotic mosquitoes have been found."

Dr Boyd said the traps will remain in place for a number of weeks.

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 a vessel in Auckland which was unloading used machinery in March this year. It was also intercepted on imported used good in Auckland in January 1998, Port of Wellington in August 1998, and in Tauranga in March 1999.

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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