Dung beetles pose low risk to New Zealander’s health
Dung beetles pose low risk to New Zealander’s health – ESR report
ESR | 7 October 2013
An ESR report into the health risks and benefits of releasing dung beetles in New Zealand has found the insects pose low risk to the public.
The report was commissioned in March 2013 by the Ministry of Health, to provide a health risk assessment into proposals to release 11 new species of dung beetles into New Zealand. Dung beetles were released on a Southland farm last week.
“Our research shows there are potential benefits from the release of the beetles,” says project leader Dr Graham Mackereth. “Because they bury and consume manure, dung beetles actually reduce the risk of human exposure to diseases that are carried in animal manure.”
The report found that by cleaning up pastures, the beetles may decrease incidence of enteric diseases that are spread through manure. This means less exposure to manure, including protecting children’s health by reducing the likelihood of them swallowing manure or other insects that have been in contact with manure.
However, there may be risk of disease if a dung beetle is swallowed or drinking water is taken from untreated groundwater sources near the beetles’ location.
“Overall, our report suggests the beetles have the potential to make a positive impact in the long-term by lowering the health risk posed to New Zealanders by dung,” Mackereth said.
Background to the report
In 2011 the Environmental Risk Management Authority (now the EPA), granted permission to a group of applicants led by Landcare Research Ltd to introduce 11 new species of dung beetle into New Zealand. After the application for release was granted, concerns were raised that a health risk assessment had not been undertaken.
As a result, the technical advisory group for dung beetle release asked the Ministry of Health for an assessment of the public health implications of introducing dung beetles into New Zealand. In March 2013, the Ministry commissioned ESR to review the public health risks and benefits of dung beetle release.
Further information about the report is
full report can be downloaded here: