Surveillance programme finds exotic mosquito

Date:
Media contact: Joe Stockman

MPI’s National Saltmarsh Mosquito Surveillance Programme has found larvae from an exotic mosquito species, Culex sitiens, near the Kaipara Harbour.

MPI was alerted to the suspected detection of the larvae on 9 March, and further testing for identification was completed on 12 March.  

Further samples are being taken in the area near the initial find, in order to identify if there is a breeding population, and if so, how far it has spread.

If there is a breeding population, it is likely that MPI will undertake a programme to eradicate the mosquito from New Zealand. MPI has successfully eradicated exotic mosquitoes in the past.

Culex sitiens is wide-spread in Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and Australia. It is known to transmit diseases such as Ross River virus and Kunjin virus. However, this is not currently a risk for New Zealand as these diseases are not present here. Culex sitiens may also be able to transmit Japanese encephalitis, but this has not been observed outside of a laboratory setting.

Officials from the Ministry for Primary Industries are investigating how the mosquito may have entered the country.

If people see unusual mosquitoes they can call the toll-free Mosquito Hotline number 0800 MOZZIE (0800 66 99 43).

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