Media Statement: Managing exotic mosquitoes at the border
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources conducts surveillance for exotic mosquitoes and disinsection across all Australian international air and sea ports on behalf of the Department of Health.
Australia is largely free of exotic mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which can carry significant diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever and zika virus.
Australian legislation requires the disinsection (treatment with insecticides) of all international aircraft and vessels (including cargo) arriving at Australian airports and seaports. To support this we also deploy surveillance traps, which are routinely monitored.
These measures are undertaken to prevent exotic mosquitoes establishing breeding populations in Australia, thereby preventing the potential for the local spread of these diseases.
Our measures for managing exotic mosquitoes are scalable, so when risk increases, which can happen seasonally, so does our level of surveillance and intervention.
For instance, in 2015 additional measures were put in place at a number of Australian international airports after increased detections of exotic mosquitoes.
The measures included insecticide fogging at the detection site, residual surface treatments and enhanced surveillance including the deployment of additional mosquito vector monitoring traps.
From February 2015 to January 2016 there were 53 detections of Aedes species mosquitoes(including adult, larvae and pupae) collected at Australia’s international airports by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. An estimated 90,000 international flights arrived in Australia over the same period.
These mosquitoes were contained and destroyed, and there was no evidence that any were carrying disease.
Our work at international airports is just one way we monitor for exotic pests and diseases.
The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy has been in operation for 25 years providing an early warning system for exotic pests, including mosquitoes, that could reach our shores in other ways.
Australia’s enviable biosecurity status is of critical importance to our human, animal and plant health—and increasing measures where risks increase is the foundation of our successful risk-based biosecurity system.