Date Published: 8 March 2016

Yellow fever mosquito larvae found at Auckland airport, NZ

Larvae of the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) have been found at Auckland airport, New Zealand. Although this was only reported today, Tues 8th March 2016, the exotic mosquito larvae were found in a trap near the international baggage area last Thursday, 3rd March.

The trap was set and monitored by specialist mosquito staff contracted by the airport. The following day (Fri 4th March) the specimens were positively identified as Aedes aegypt, which is commonly known as the 'yellow fever mosquito'. This species of insect is a public health concern because it has been known to transmit several serious human diseases including Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, Ross River virus, and the Zika virus.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health reported discovery of the yellow fever mosquito larvae on its website and stated that airport staff and also the Auckland Regional Public Health Service were notified and a response implemented immediately. The response included an intensive surveillance programme by Auckland airport and Auckland Regional Public Health Services involving adult and larval traps being deployed both inside and outside the international terminal building to support the airport's permanent surveillance programme outside the building. Enhanced surveillance will be implemented for at least the next 30 days, covering three potential breeding cycles.

According to a statement on the NZ government website by Dr Stewart Jessamine, Acting Director of Public Health, the yellow fever mosquito is not established in New Zealand but has been intercepted at ports and airports 14 times since 2000. It has been detected three times in 2015 and once previously in 2016. However, this is the first time Aedes aegypti larvae have been found in traps in New Zealand. On two previous occasions (2007 and 2010) larvae were found onboard incoming vessels from the South Pacific. 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, such new mosquitoes could transmit serious diseases.

As of 8th March there have been no subsequent finds of exotic mosquitos reported at Auckland airport.

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