19 January 2011
Health authorities are thanking residents close to the ports of Auckland and Tauranga for help in looking for two unwanted species of mosquito after they were found on a visiting cargo ship in early December last year.
Public Health Service staff in both cities received around 50 calls from vigilant members of the public who reported unusual mosquitoes.
Most of the unusual insects could be ruled out over the phone from the descriptions provided but in some instances the insects were examined.
Fortunately no other exotic mosquitoes were found from either public reports or from the additional traps put around both ports.
The additional checking was put in place following the unexpected finding of exotic mosquitoes at the Auckland Port on Tuesday 6 Dec on a ship that had docked the day before in Tauranga.
Please attribute these comments to Ministry of Health Manager of Border and Environmental Health Sally Gilbert.
For more information contact: Peter Abernethy, Media Relations Manager, 021 366 111.
The two species found were Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito) and Culex quinquefasciatus.
The Asian Tiger Mosquito is not established in New Zealand, and is able to spread a range of diseases.
All mosquitoes detected on the vessel were treated and killed.
The additional checking continued over the holiday period and was completed by 16 January 2012.
Exotic mosquitoes of public health significance have been intercepted on average around nine times a year in the past five years.
MAF staff are the first line of defence in the search for exotic organisms on imported goods. District Health Board public health unit border health protection officers carry out routine surveillance for mosquitoes and respond to suspected 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.