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Mosquito intercepted at the Ports of Auckland

Media Release

23 September 2003

Mosquito intercepted at the Ports of Auckland

A dead mosquito larva and pupa have been intercepted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Quarantine Service at the Ports of Auckland.

The Culex mosquito was discovered by MAF quarantine staff on Sunday September 21 on used tyres on the back of a Terex scraper which had arrived from England and was bound for Christchurch. The truck and tyres have been cleaned and fumigated.

While the Ministry of Health's contracted taxonomist was able to identify the larva as a Culex mosquito, it was unable to identify its exact species as the head was missing.

The area where the truck was parked and where the vessel had berthed has been inspected by Auckland Regional Public Health Service staff and any potential habitat identified, treated or eliminated. A number of adult and larval mosquito traps have also been placed in the vicinity.

The Ministry of Health says exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on 23 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 in 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 "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.

ENDS

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