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Exotic mosquitoes intercepted at Ports of Auckland


Exotic mosquitoes intercepted at Ports of Auckland

Auckland Regional Public Health staff are checking for mosquito larvae and have set up traps at the Ports of Auckland after larvae were found in the mixing bowl of a concrete truck being imported from Japan.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Quarantine staff found the mosquito larvae in the mixing bowl on the truck during a routine inspection of vehicles that had been discharged from a car carrier. This happened in the early evening on March 3. MAF staff immediately secured samples and began treatment of the risk goods. They reported the incident to the Auckland Regional Public Health Services staff who then initiated an interception response.

The specimens found were of three separate exotic species: Ochlerotatus japonicus (or the Japanese Tiger Mosquito), Uranotaenia novobscura and Tripteroides bambusa.

Ochlerotatus japonicus is regarded as a serious biosecurity threat. They are the potential transmitters of a number of diseases of public health significance including Japanese Encephalitis Virus and West Nile Virus. The other two exotic species detected, Uranotaenia novobscura and Tripteroides bambusa, are not regarded as being of major public health significance.

The Ministry of Health's Deputy Chief Technical Officer for Biosecurity (Health) JR Gardner said the mixing bowl that contained the larvae had been treated and the vehicle fumigated.

``Risk goods associated with the shipment have also been treated. A survey has been conducted in the vicinity of the finding and potential mosquito habitat has been treated,'' Mr Gardner said.

"We're confident that these measures have eradicated any other mosquitoes that might have been in the concrete truck, but the Auckland Regional Public Health Service is maintaining close surveillance around the area. Health protection staff have placed a number of larval and adult mosquito traps in the vicinity.

“The fact that MAF staff detected the mosquito larvae within a short time has been a major bonus for us. This meant that a rapid response followed and improved the chances of achieving an eradication of this hazard. Biosecurity strategy relies greatly on everybody’s participation in keeping our borders secure, in this event MAF and public health services staff have worked closely together.''

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

Public Health Services in the other ports that the vessel, the MV Magic Wave, visited (Wellington and Lyttelton), have been alerted and their inspections of the vessel and its cargo have verified that there are no other mosquitoes present.

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.

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 37 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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