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Exotic Mosquito Intercepted at Ports of Auckland

Media Release
16 April 2003

Exotic Mosquito Intercepted at Ports of Auckland

An imported mosquito discovered at the Ports of Auckland on a ship originating from Japan has been provisionally cleared as likely to be a species already established in New Zealand and not considered a danger to public health.

However, as a precautionary measure, and to ensure that any other mosquitoes present were killed, public health authorities treated the imported used cherry pickers and checked the area around the ship as a preventative measure while waiting for identification.

The identified larvae belongs to the species Culex quinquefasciatus. The larvae were found by MAF Quarantine staff in an imported used cherry picker on the MV Dyvi Baltic at 3 O'clock this morning during a routine inspection.

Independent confirmation from Australian experts is pending but the species Culex quinquefasciatus is regarded as distinctive and unlikely to be confused with other species.

It appears that the mosquito larvae infestation was localised to standing water in one used cherry picker, though there were seven on board.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Sally Gilbert said all standing water, as well as used tyres found on the cherry picker, were treated with the anti-mosquito spray Bti and kerosene and all decks of the ship were fogged with insecticide to kill any adult mosquitoes present.

Public Health staff will continue to keep an eye on the vessel and its cargo said Ms Gilbert, Chief Technical Officer (Health) for Biosecurity.

The used cherry picker where the larvae were found is to be transported to Lyttleton via Wellington and health protection staff in each of these regions have been informed.

Background: Mosquitoes go through four separate and distinct stages of its life cycle: Egg, Larva, Pupa (resting stage), and Adult. The larvae found most recently were fourth instar larvae. Some pupae and a pupal case were also found.

Exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on 21 previous occasions since January 1998.

Exotic mosquitoes are most likely to enter New Zealand by way of: Being lodged in deck cargo on international ships Breeding in water storage and open containers on fishing boats and yachts Breeding or attached to used tyres Breeding in cavities and containers on used vehicles, used machinery and other imported goods.

MAF Quarantine Service staff are the first line of defence in the search for exotic organisms on imported goods. Public health staff carry out routine surveillance for mosquitoes and respond to interceptions of exotic mosquitoes.

Biosecurity agencies ask that cargo handlers and members of the public who note anything unusual on imported goods to "see it, contain it and report it''. This message is actively promoted by the biosecurity awareness programme, Protect New Zealand.

This could mean closing off the vehicle, container, package or room, and reporting it to the MAF exotic pest hotline 0800 809 966.


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