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Exotic Mosquitoes at Auckland Port, Airport

Media Release

14 November 2005

Exotic Mosquitoes Intercepted at Ports of Auckland and Auckland International Airport

Two separate finds of mosquitoes in imported goods occurred at the Port of Auckland and Auckland Airport at the weekend.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Quarantine Service (MQS) staff found live Asian Tiger mosquitoes on an imported rubbish truck off-loaded from a ship from Japan at Auckland Port on 11th November.

The adult mosquito, 5 pupae and 32 larvae were found in water in a drain in the truck. The truck was treated immediately and Auckland Regional Public Health staff are treating and monitoring the surrounding area to detect any further mosquitoes.

The ship continued on to Christchurch where it was checked by public health staff, and the vehicle decks were fogged with insecticide to kill any mosquitoes that might have been present.

The mosquitoes from the rubbish truck were forwarded to New Zealand BioSecure mosquito identification experts and have been confirmed as Asian Tiger Mosquito.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is known to be able to spread of a number of diseases including Dengue Fever, Ross River Virus, Japanese Encephalitis and West Nile Virus. It has been declared an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Deputy Chief Technical Officer from the Ministry of Health JR Gardner said the Asian Tiger Mosquito would be a great challenge to eradicate if it were to become established in New Zealand. This species had demonstrated an ability to live in new areas, adapting well to temperate climates and feeding on humans, domestic and wild mammals and birds.

Health protection staff will monitor the traps in the area for a further three weeks to ensure that the mosquitoes have not escaped into the local environment.

Auckland Regional Public Health Staff were then advised on November 13th that a mosquito had been detected by MQS staff in foodstuffs imported by plane from Fiji.

The mosquito found in the imported foodstuff were forwarded to New Zealand BioSecure mosquito identification experts and have been confirmed as Culex pervigilans, a mosquito that is found in New Zealand.

Mr Gardiner said he was confident that the measures taken by the public health staff would have eliminated any other mosquitoes that might have been harboring in truck or the foodstuffs but close surveillance around the area would be continued.

“Biosecurity relies greatly on everybody’s participation to keep our borders secure. These sites will be monitored closely for the next few weeks but it is important that anyone who works in the vicinity who notices any mosquito activity such as insect biting or ‘wrigglers in pooled water’ assist by reporting this to the Public Health Services.” said Mr Gardner

The phone number to ring for Auckland Regional Public Health Service is 09 6234600 and 03 3799480 for Community and Public Health in Christchurch. The MAF exotic pest hotline is 0800 809 966.

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 will spread in New Zealand.

Exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on 42 occasions since January 1998.

ENDS

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