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Mosquito eradication programme begins

Media Release

4 May 2006

Mosquito eradication programme begins

The eradication programme to rid Kaipara Harbour of a type of unwanted Australian mosquito, the southern salt marsh mosquito, has been revived with the discovery of three adult mosquitoes and 19 larvae.

Following recent wet events in the Kaipara Harbour (a series of king tides followed by rainfall), surveillance teams found small numbers of southern salt marsh mosquitoes at two different locations in the southern Kaipara harbour.

"As soon as the samples were found eradication treatment began at the sites," said JR Gardner, Deputy Chief Technical Officer (Health).

"It is a surprise for the Kaipara eradication programme to find these 'tail enders' at this point in time. The next few weeks are important as this will determine if there are other infested areas."

"We are responding by maintaining surveillance throughout the entire eradication zone. Officials and technical experts are analysing the collection data in order that the planning for dealing with this event will meet the rigorous science-based standards maintained throughout the programme," Mr Gardner added.

The active treatment phase of Kaipara Harbour has been completed but the area remains under surveillance.


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Q & A:

What is the southern salt marsh mosquito?

The southern salt marsh mosquito (Ochlerotatus camptorhynchus) is a mosquito species found in coastal areas of southern Australia. It was first discovered at Napier, New Zealand in December 1998.

What is the health threat from the southern salt marsh mosquito?

The mosquito is an aggressive day biter with the potential to cause significant nuisance effects for people, livestock and birds. It is a confirmed vector of Ross River Virus (RRV) in southwest Western Australia. If the southern salt marsh mosquito population is left unchecked, future risks include the introduction of RRV to susceptible human populations and an epidemic of the disease.

What monitoring has occurred in the area in the past two years?

Continuous monitoring has been carried out throughout the Kaipara Harbour since June 2004.

Where were the mosquitoes found?

The mosquito specimens were found at a site approximately 3.5 kilometers northwest of Parakai and at two sites some 13 kilometers north of Helensville. The specimens found were adults and larvae. Larvae are mosquitoes in the wriggler stage of the lifecycle when the mosquito lives in water.

Have there been any other finds of these mosquitoes since June 2004?

A single adult was discovered close to Shelly Beach in early November 2005. Subsequently, several larvae were found at a site 13 kilometers north of Helensville at a farm near the Makarau River mouth. These ?tailend? findings initiated an immediate treatment response.

How big is the initial infestation area (size of area)?

An area of up to 300 hectares may need to be treated to kill any other mosquitoes present.

How successful are the eradication programmes?

The eradication programmes in Napier, Haumoana, Mahia, Porangahau, Tairawhiti, Mangawhai and Whitford have been completed and there have been no further finds of the Southern Saltmarsh Mosquito in these areas.

The active treatment phase of the Kaipara eradication programme has been completed and this area is in phase three (surveillance) of the eradication programme. Until this latest find, with the exception of the findings late last year, no larvae have been detected in the greater Kaipara Harbour since February 2004.

The Wairau eradication plan is being fully implemented over an estimated 1200 hectares of saltmarsh in the Wairau lagoons and Grassmere areas in Marlborough. The full treatment phase of the eradication programme began in December 2004 and is expected to continue until March or April 2006, when it will move into the surveillance phase of eradication.

A small site at Whangaparaoa was discovered in January 2004, with more mosquito larvae found in May 2005.

ENDS

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