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Yellow Fever Mosquito Intercepted at Auckland Port

15 February 2005

Yellow Fever Mosquito Intercepted at Auckland Port

Public health staff are checking for Yellow Fever mosquito larvae and have set up traps at the Ports of Auckland after they were found on a canoe being imported from Rarotonga.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Quarantine staff found the yellow fever mosquito larvae (Aedes aegypti) on an outrigger canoe being imported for dragon boat racing, during routine inspections at the Ports of Auckland. Although the canoe was inspected before leaving Rarotonga, the protective plastic covering had been badly damaged allowing infestation as the canoe was transported through the Pacific to New Zealand.

Yellow fever mosquitoes are regarded as the most efficient mosquito vector of arboviruses. It may be a vector (transmitter) of a number of diseases of public health significance, such as Barmah Forest virus, Dengue fever, Ross River virus disease and yellow fever.

The Ministry of Health's Chief Technical Officer for biosecurity (Health) Sally Gilbert says "The canoe where the larvae were found has been treated with chlorine, as well as other insecticides, and is being fumigated.

"We're confident that these measures would have eradicated any other mosquitoes in the canoe, but the Auckland Regional Public Health Service has also implemented a programme of enhanced surveillance. Health protection staff have checked the surrounding area and placed a number of adult and larval mosquito traps in the vicinity," said Ms Gilbert.

Health protection staff will monitor the traps for at least three weeks to see if there is any sign the mosquitoes may have escaped into the local environment.

Ms Gilbert said the fact that the exotic mosquitoes have been detected at the border shows systems are working efficiently, and it means it is less likely they'll spread in New Zealand.

Exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on 32 occasions since January 1998.

ENDS

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