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Exotic mosquito found at Auckland wharf

Media release

29 January 2004

Exotic mosquito found at Auckland wharf

Exotic mosquito larvae were intercepted by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Quarantine Service during inspection of risk goods at the Ports of Auckland yesterday.

The mosquito larvae have been identified by New Zealand Biosecure taxonomists as
Aedes aegypti, known as the yellow fever mosquito, and Aedes polynesiensis. The larvae were discovered in a used concrete mixer being transhipped from Futuna Island via Auckland and Noumea to Suva. Approximately 20 litres of water was found in the main mixing bowl of the concrete mixer containing approximately 30 mosquito larvae. The concrete mixer was drained and treated with insecticide. The concrete mixer is also being fumigated.

As pupal casings and one live pupa were subsequently found it is possible that adult mosquitoes emerged while the vessel was berthed. Auckland Regional Public Heath Service staff inspected the immediate port area and adult traps have been erected. Potential habitats have been identified and treated. Surveillance will continue for three weeks to ensure that if any mosquito has established this will be detected as quickly as possible.

Aedes aegypti has been declared an unwanted organism in New Zealand as it is a vector for diseases such as yellow fever, Dengue fever, Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus disease. Yellow fever is one of three quarantinable diseases internationally.

Aedes polynesiensis has also been declared an unwanted organism. It is capable of vectoring arboviruses such as Bancroftian filariasis, Dengue fever, Murray River encephalitis and Ross River virus disease.

Ministry of Health chief technical officer Sally Gilbert said exotic mosquitoes of public health significance had been intercepted on 24 occasions since January 1998.

Ms Gilbert said it was of particular concern to find yellow fever mosquito because of the implications it would hold for public health should it become established in New Zealand.

The find also coincides with Auckland Public Health Services’ awareness campaign, conducted this summer around the port, to highlight how to limit mosquito habitats around the home. More information on this is contained on their website

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.


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