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Mosquito larvae and pupae discovered in ship


Mosquito larvae and pupae discovered in ship at Ports of Auckland

Auckland public health and MAF Quarantine Service officials are on alert after the discovery early this morning of larvae and pupae believed to be from exotic mosquitoes which can carry a dangerous disease.

The Ministry of Health's Chief Technical Officer (Health) for biosecurity, Sally Gilbert, said that from early indications, the specimens were Ochlerotatus japonicus, also known as Aedes japonicus.

Ochlerotatus japonicus can carry the Japanese encephalitis virus, which can cause fever and encephalitis and may result in death for some patients. There has never been an outbreak of New Zealand acquired mosquito-borne disease in New Zealand.

Ms Gilbert said MAF Quarantine Service staff found more than 100 larvae, three pupae and two pupal cases in the bucket of a used, imported cherry-picker on board a ship at the Ports of Auckland. Specimens have been sent to New Zealand Biosecure for identification. This will later be confirmed by an Australian expert.

Ms Gilbert said the discovery was made during a routine inspection of risk goods on board a ship from Japan. It was carrying about 400 vehicles, and will return to Japan once unloading is completed.

``Today's interception is the biggest to date on a single piece of imported, used machinery,'' Ms Gilbert said.

``MAF quarantine staff found the larvae and pupae in about 40 litres of water in the cherry picker bucket just after midnight. They immediately stopped any used vehicles and machinery from leaving the port.

``The cherry-picker was treated with the control agent Bti and has been fumigated. The shed area has also been fogged with insecticide and additional adult traps put in place. Ovitraps for larvae have been moved to positions down-wind of the vessel, and enhanced surveillance will be maintained for a further four weeks.''

In September more than 30 specimens of Ochlerotatus japonicus larvae and pupae were discovered in a used concrete mixer on a vessel docked at the Ports of Auckland. No adult mosquitoes were found.

Exotic mosquitoes that have public health significance have been intercepted on 15 previous occasions since January 1998.

Exotic mosquitoes are most likely to enter New Zealand by way of: deck cargo on international ships water storage and open containers on fishing boats and yachts used tyres, used vehicles, used machinery and other imported goods.

MAF quarantine staff are the front line defence in the search for exotic organisms on imported goods. Routine surveillance for mosquitoes is carried out by public health staff.

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 0800 809 966,'' Ms Gilbert said.


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