Enhanced mosquito surveillance finishes

An enhanced exotic mosquito surveillance programme at Auckland Airport has been completed, with no further discoveries made.

Media release

09 May 2016

An enhanced exotic mosquito surveillance programme at Auckland Airport has been completed, with no further discoveries made. 

The programme began on 3 March 2016, after specialist staff contracted by Auckland Airport captured exotic mosquito larvae in a trap near the international baggage area. 

The specimens were subsequently identified as Aedes aegypti (commonly called the yellow fever mosquito).  This mosquito can transmit a number of human diseases including Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, Ross River virus, and Zika virus. 

Airport staff and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service were notified and a response mounted, with an additional 35 adult and larval traps placed inside and outside the international terminal building to support the Airport's permanent surveillance programme. Potential mosquito breeding sites were identified and treated or eliminated, and airport staff applied residual insecticide sprays to high risk surfaces.  Airport staff also raised awareness among staff and contractors with training and posters.  The enhanced surveillance covered three potential breeding cycles and no more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were detected.

The yellow fever mosquito is not established in New Zealand but has been intercepted at ports and airports 14 times since 2000. It was detected three times in 2015 and once previously in 2016.  On two previous occasions (2007 and 2010) larvae were found on incoming vessels from the South Pacific.This was the first time Aedes aegypti larvae have been found in traps in New Zealand. 

In all cases a public health interception response was undertaken and the mosquito did not establish in New Zealand. 

New Zealand has 12 native and 3 introduced species of mosquito, none of which have been found to transmit diseases in New Zealand. If some new species of mosquitoes became established here, these new mosquitoes could transmit serious diseases. 

In a joint statement in support of the enhanced surveillance programme, the Ministries of  Health and Primary Industries have thanked airlines for their cooperation during the process, and issued a strong endorsement of aircraft disinsection as one of the most effective tools to stop exotic mosquitoes and other pests of significance entering New Zealand. 

"New Zealand has strong biosecurity and border health programmes These programmes protect our communities, primary industries and indigenous biodiversity from the impacts of exotic organisms and the diseases they carry. 

"The recent response demonstrates the effectiveness of New Zealand's programmes. It also shows how important the aircraft disinsection process is to ensure mosquitoes and other biosecurity pests do not survive and enter New Zealand," the Ministries say. 

Find background information on the Ministry of Health website: 

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