Pest mosquito eliminated from Coromandel

1 May 2009

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) has successfully eliminated the Southern salt marsh mosquito (SSM) from the Coromandel area, ending some three years of treatment and surveillance activity.

The Australian mosquito can be a carrier of Ross River virus, which causes a severe flu-like illness in humans, and is also a vicious day time biter.

The insect was first detected in New Zealand in Napier in 1998 and has been under treatment at several locations around the country since then. It has now been eliminated from all but one of these sites - Wairau in Marlborough, where excellent progress is being made on its elimination.

SSM was first detected in the Coromandel in May 2006. Activities undertaken since then to locally eliminate the insect have included helicopter and ground treatment operations, trapping of adults, and sampling for juvenile life stages.

During the eradication programme, several areas north of State highway 25 were treated with S-methoprene insecticide granules and Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) spray where live larvae were found.

MAFBNZ Incursion Response Manager David Yard says the successful elimination of the mosquito in Coromandel is something to celebrate, now that two years have passed without any sign of the insect - as adults, larvae or eggs. There has been intensive surveillance undertaken during those two years for both adults and larvae.

"MAFBNZ, and in the initial stages, the Ministry of Health, have undertaken a comprehensive work programme against this aggressive mosquito and to be able to declare this success is significant considering the vast areas of ideal habitat the Coromandel provides for the pest," Mr Yard says.

He adds that the cooperation of local landowners has contributed significantly to the success of the programme and that MAFBNZ are grateful for this.

Now elimination has been declared in Coromandel, the area comes under the control of the Ministry of Health which administers an active national surveillance programme. This programme covers all of New Zealand to provide early detection of any exotic salt marsh mosquito, and will ensure that a sound level of ongoing surveillance is carried out in Coromandel.

The active eradication programme for SSM is continuing in one remaining New Zealand location - Wairau (in Marlborough).



For further information, contact:

Lesley Patston | Senior Communications Adviser | Ph 04 8940163 or 029 8940163

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