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Exotic Mosquito Suspected in Used Machinery

Media Release

13 November 2001

Exotic Mosquito Suspected in Used Machinery

A trapping programme is underway at ports in Auckland and Christchurch following the discovery of exotic mosquito larvae suspected to be the Asian tiger mosquito or Aedes albopictus.

Aedes albopictus is an unwanted organism that may be a vector for dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever.

The Ministry of Health's chief technical officer for biosecurity Dr Bob Boyd said the larvae were found at the Port of Auckland during routine inspections by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry quarantine staff.

Staff were inspecting used vehicles and machinery as it was unloaded from a vessel from Japan.

"Several live larvae were found in water in a 50 litre container on the deck of a concrete pumping truck. The concrete truck has since been fumigated and all other vehicles on board the vessel have been checked. Traps have been set within the wharf area."

"To date, no other mosquitoes have been found in the area."

Dr Boyd said New Zealand taxonomy experts suspect the exotic mosquito could be Aedes albopictus. The further examination and comment is being sought from an Australian expert before a conclusive identification is made.

"We expect to have a response from Australia later this week. In the meantime precautionary measures have been put in place."

The vessel is due to arrive in Lyttleton Port on Wednesday morning. Health Protection Officers and MAF officials will meet the vessel upon its arrival for further inspection.

"No used vehicles or machinery will be permitted to leave the port until they have been checked and cleared by MAF quarantine staff, and any dirty or contaminated vehicles will be fumigated or steam cleaned prior to clearance. Traps will also be set at Lyttleton as an extra precaution."

ENDS

For more information contact: Hayley Brock Media Advisor (04) 496 2115, 025 495 989 http://www.moh.govt.nz

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