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Imported Mosquitoes Intercepted at Napier Port

2 March 2005

Imported Mosquitoes Intercepted at Napier Port

Public health staff are checking for mosquito larvae and have set up traps at the Napier Port after Quinquefasciatus mosquitoes originating from Australia were found in a container at the Port.

Port staff found the mosquito larvae in a tyre inside the container and immediately notified Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Quarantine staff. The MAF staff treated the risk goods and reported the incident to the Public Health Services staff who initiated an interception response,

Imported Mosquitoes are regarded as a serious Biosecurity threat. They may be a vector (transmitter) of a number of diseases of public health significance. The species found at Napier has been associated with the spread of Murray Valley Encephalitis, (in Australia) and West Nile Virus, (in the USA).

The Ministry of Health's Deputy Chief Technical Officer for Biosecurity (Health) JR Gardner says "The tyre that contained the larvae has been treated and the container has been steam cleaned as well. In addition residual insecticides have been used to treat potential habitat close to the site of the interception?

"We're confident that these measures have eradicated any other mosquitoes that might have been in the container, but the Regional Public Health Service is maintaining surveillance around the area. Health protection staff have placed a number of larval mosquito traps in the vicinity," said Mr. Gardner.

?A positive aspect of this interception was the fact that Port staff alerted MQS as soon as they saw the mosquito larvae. This meant that a rapid response followed and the hazard eliminated. It is pleasing to see the various stakeholders carrying out their responsibilities so willingly as this country?s Biosecurity strategy relies greatly on everybody?s participation in keeping our borders secure? said Mr. Gardner.

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.

Mr. Gardner 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 36 occasions since January 1998.

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 32 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 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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