New Zealand’s biosecurity needs to be protected

Large cargo ship docked at Lyttelton PortNew Zealand is free of many exotic diseases and their vectors. Effective quarantine and biosecurity procedures prevent the entry of these diseases or their carriers.

Ports at Timaru and Lyttelton, and Christchurch International Airport are entry points for these diseases.

Community and Public Health is involved in activities at these locations, including:

  • Exotic mosquito monitoring at ports and Christchurch Airport.
  • Responding to notifications of exotic mosquito interceptions and incursions.
  • Responding to ill passengers on international flights or visiting cruise ships.
  • Inspecting ships for sanitary conditions and disease vectors such as mosquitoes and rats.

Staff are ready to respond to any concerns that arise. Mosquito borne diseases and highly infectious diseases are particular worries.

Responding to infectious diseases and other international events

The International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 now take an ‘all hazards’ approach by including all events of a chemical, biological or radiological nature and are no longer just about responding to quarantinable diseases.

Christchurch International Airport Limited and Lyttelton Port of Christchurch are designated as Points of Entry under the IHR. This means they need to have the required core capacities at all times and during the response to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Community and Public Health makes sure that ports and airports are ready to deal with public health events of international concern by:

  • Maintaining emergency response plans;
  • Assessing unwell international travellers and crew;
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders.

Exotic mosquitoes pose a life-threatening public health threat

HPO Bruce Waddleton checking a mosquito trap.Community and Public Health staff conduct mosquito surveillance activities to prevent exotic mosquitoes spreading serious illnesses such as Ross Rover Virus and Dengue Fever in New Zealand. This involves:

  • Doing regular mosquito surveys at entry points (e.g. Timaru and Lyttelton Ports and Christchurch International Airport)
  • Responding to suspected exotic mosquito sightings/reports, and
  • Answering questions and complaints about mosquitos.

New Zealand is an appealing environment for exotic mosquitoes and it is possible that they could feel very at home in the South Island. New Zealand has 12 native species of mosquito and 3 well-established introduced species. Once established, they are very difficult and expensive to get rid of.

Lyttelton is one of New Zealand’s busiest seaports, receiving tonnes of high risk cargo (tyres, cars and machinery) every week from destinations such as Japan and other Asian countries. It has the mosquito-friendly habitats of large areas of bush land and a town in very close proximity.

Christchurch International Airport receives passengers and cargo from around the world. It has many sites that would suit container-breeding mosquitoes.



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Contact your local CPH office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

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Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Fijian miracle water poses biosecurity risk

Released 20th March 2017

The Ministry for Primary Industries is asking travellers from Fiji to stop bringing “miracle water” into New Zealand if they want to avoid a stiff fine or treatment costs.

The untreated water is sourced from a natural spring in Dawasumu, and is claimed to have healing properties.

“Our concern is whether it contains waterborne diseases that could harm NZ’s freshwater aquaculture and natural environment – not whether it’s healing properties are real or not,” says MPI’s Manager North Passenger and Mail Craig Hughes.

“The locals may call it miracle water, but it is untreated, so it poses a biosecurity risk to New Zealand.”

MPI border staff have seized miracle water from nearly 500 air passengers arriving from Fiji since November.

“All arriving passengers are required to declare the water at the border. They have to pay for heat treatment costing around $60 if they want to keep the water. If they don’t declare it, they face a $400 fine or prosecution.”

Page last updated: 27/03/2017

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