8 Mar 2016

Possible Zika-carrying larvae found

10:39 am on 8 March 2016

Biosecurity officials at Auckland Airport have found mosquito larvae of the type that can carry Zika.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which can carry the zika virus, are seen in containers at a lab in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos in containers in a lab in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: AFP

The Ministry of Health said staff found the larvae in a trap near the international baggage area on 3 March.

It said the mosquito larvae were positively identified the next day as Aedes aegypti, more commonly known as the yellow fever mosquito.

The species can carry a range of diseases including the Zika virus, which has been linked to microcephaly - a severe birth defect.

The ministry said they had set up an intensive surveillance programme at the airport, and had set up adult and larval traps inside and outside the international terminal building,

It said there had been no further finds since then.

The yellow fever mosquito has been discovered 14 times at ports and airports since 2000, including three times last year and once earlier this year.

It had been found twice on ships arriving from the South Pacific. This month's incident was the first time it had been found in a trap.

The ministry said there was no established population of the species in New Zealand.

Dozens of Zika cases in New Zealand

At least 75 people have been treated for Zika in New Zealand this year, with 71 confirmed to have the virus and four others considered likely to have it.

The figures, from the Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research, showed 49 of those treated for the disease had been exposed to it while travelling in Samoa, a further 20 in Tonga and a handful in American Samoa.

Most cases are undetectable or cause mild symptoms such as low fever or joint pain.

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