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Exotic Mosquito Interception at Auckland Port


Media Release

24 May 2004

Exotic Mosquito Interception at Auckland Port

Exotic mosquito have been found in a used imported concrete mixer at the Port of Auckland by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Quarantine staff during a routine inspection.

The species was identified as Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian Tiger mosquito. This species is of particular concern because not only might it carry the Ross River Virus, it is an excellent vector (transmitter) of Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever.

The larvae were found on the ship Sochi from Yokohama, Japan, which was carrying mixed cargo to New Zealand. The larvae were intercepted on Saturday 22nd of May, after the ship had docked in Auckland. The ship has been cleared and left port to return to Japan.

Ministry of Health Chief Technical Officer for biosecurity (Health) Sally Gilbert said the container where the larvae were found was immediately treated with Bti, the concrete truck and risk goods were fumigated before release.

"We're confident that these measures would have eradicated any other mosquitoes, but a programme of enhanced surveillance has also begun, with checking the surrounding area and placing a number of adult and larval mosquito traps in the vicinity," said Ms Gilbert. . Exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on 27 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.

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 second and third instar larvae. This means that it is unlikely that any adults had the chance to develop and fly away.

Exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on 27 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.

ENDS

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