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Mosquito Intercepted at Auckland Airport.

Mosquito Intercepted at Auckland Airport.

A species of exotic mosquito has been intercepted by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Quarantine Service at Auckland Airport.

The single adult Culex gelidus, or frosty mosquito, was discovered by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry quarantine staff in flowers that came from India.

Culex gelidus was declared an unwanted organism in September 2000, as it had been newly reported in Australia, and had the potential to survive and become established in New Zealand. It may be a vector for human disease such as Japanese encephalitis.

This species is native to India and south-east Asia and has been reported from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia. It has not been intercepted before in New Zealand.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Sally Gilbert said Auckland Regional Public Health Service health protection staff immediately put in place a programme of enhanced surveillance, checking the surrounding area and placing a number of adult and larval mosquito traps in the vicinity.

"Health authorities will continue the enhanced surveillance to make sure no exotic mosquitoes have established in the area," said Ms Gilbert, Chief Technical Officer (Health) for Biosecurity.

Ms Gilbert said 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 Lodged in 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.

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,'' Ms Gilbert said.

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