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Exotic Mosquito Interception at Auckland Port

Exotic Mosquito Interception at Auckland Port

Exotic mosquito have been found in used tyres being transshipped from Rarotonga to Fiji via Auckland by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Quarantine staff during a routine inspection.

One of the species is suspected to be Aedes polynesiensis. This species is of concern because it can carry the Ross River Virus and may also be a vector (transmitter) of Dengue Fever, Bancroftian filariasis, Chikungunya and Murray Valley encephalitis.

The larvae and a pupa were found in the tyres which had been off-loaded from the MV Forum Rarotonga, an island trader which was carrying mixed cargo to New Zealand. The larvae were intercepted on Monday 11 October 2004, after the ship had docked in Auckland. The ship is being cleared and is due to leave port today.

Ministry of Health Chief Technical Officer for biosecurity (Health) Sally Gilbert said the tyres where the larvae were found were immediately treated with the biological control spray Bti, and will be 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 30 occasions since January 1998.

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

ENDS

Background:

Mosquitoes go through four separate and distinct stages of its life cycle: Egg, Larva, Pupa (resting stage), and Adult.

Exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on 30 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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