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14 January 2002
A team of experienced practice nurses and family doctors working with an environmental
health physician is available for people in west Auckland with health concerns about the
effects of the aerial spraying which is scheduled to start on Saturday (19 January 2002).
If the weather's right, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) starts its
targeted aerial spraying against painted apple moth at dawn. The pest is a leaf-eating
caterpillar threatening Waitakere's forests and gardens.
Medical and nursing consultations are available at Westcare White Cross Specialist
centre, 131 Lincoln Road, Henderson (behind McDonald's) and the Lynmall Medical Centre,
Veronica St side of Lynmall, New Lynn. More venues will be available soon. The advice is
free and an appointment can be made by phoning 358 3206.
The health advisory service is not intended to replace normal medical services and is
not offering any emergency care.
Although most people are not at any risk from the spray, MAF responded to community
concerns from people with respiratory or allergic conditions who feel vulnerable with a
health monitoring and support programme.
MAF's independent health advisor, Dr Francesca Kelly, has already been advising those
on a medical register accessed through MAF's free phone line (0800 96 96 96) and will
contact the remaining people this week. Over 90 people have registered. MAF will also call
everyone on the register to let them know when spraying starts and how to find out when
Dr Kelly says that people who feel susceptible to sprays should stay inside for up to
two hours after spraying and close windows, doors and block up fireplaces during this two
hour period only. "For most people, there's no need to leave the area or to take any
special precautions. This includes caring for BBQ and play equipment, vegetable gardens
and swimming pools - the spray is water soluble so usual hygiene practices will do the
Dr Kelly says that people with allergies should contact the MAF medical team for
individual advice, by phoning 358 3206.
The spray being used is a formulation of Btk which kills only caterpillars and is
harmless to people and animals. Btk is found naturally is water, soil and air.
Dr Kelly says, "the spray is sticky and does not come off vegetation once it has
dried. If you think you've come in contact with it just wash it off with water. Rinse home
grown fruit and vegetables before eating or cooking and wash down surfaces like BBQs or
outside tables with water- just as you would normally."
An independent health risk assessment recently carried out by the Auckland Area Health
Board's public health protection division gave Btk a clean bill of health and said after
35 years Btk has never been implicated in human infection or any other significant health
conditions. The health advice does comment that some people may prefer to be cautious if
they are sensitive to sprays.
For media inquiries please call Dr Francesca Kelly: Tel: 09 358 3206.