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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Aussie blood suckers

Isn't it interesting how quickly an infestation of foreign pests are dealt with when the Ministry of Health is in charge? When Biosecurity is in charge it could take many years, and in the case of the Didymo plague - apparently never. So it is at least a positive sign that the Health Ministry is in charge of getting rid of the southern saltmarsh mosquito – a known carrier of the Ross River virus (RRV) which has been discovered in a remote area of the Coromandel.

A spokesman for the national surveillance programme, John Gardner from the Ministry of Health, said the discovery of the three sites, just north of Colville, were "a real disappointment".

The mosquito, ochlerotatus camptorhynchus, was first found in Napier in December 1998, and has since been identified at Muriwai, Mahia, Porangahau, the Kaipara and Mangawhai harbours, Whitford, Whangaporoa and Wairau.

The mosquito was "an aggressive biter with the potential to cause significant nuisance effects for people, livestock and birds", Mr Gardner said.

Not just an "aggressive biter," but an aggressive daytime biter. So the barbecue and going outside and generally our lifestyle (in the coastal areas at least - where 4/5 of the country lives) is going to be ruined if this pest takes hold. Imagine the worst sea lice experience transferred to land (if the descriptions are to be believed) - that would be intolerable.

The Ministry reported last year:
The mosquito has been successfully eradicated from the east coast of the North Island, Whitford, and Mangawhai. Attempted eradication programmes are still underway in the Kaipara (including Whangaparoa) and Wairau.

That website is also important as it has information on the programme of eradication and the systematic way the Ministry has gone about "treating" the sites and timetables for eradication. The mozzies can fly up to 5km so it is important to get them early. Compared to the appalling fumblings of the Ministry of Biosecurity over the painted apple moth and the non-action over Didymo it could be a case study. And one cannot feasibly be more plain on this point: Biosecurity doesn't want to eradicate they want to monitor and let it spread (and probably because they don't have a clue, appoint poor leaders, report to poor ministers and default to doing nothing in order to grow their own budget as their inaction makes the problem more insolvable) - that is why they do not have any eradication timetables. Health wants to detect it immediately and eradicate it forthwith - there is no monitoring-for-the-sake-of-research bullshit. More ranting and Anderton-bashing here.

I would like to know how the mozzies are getting here in the first place. Ships and their cargo are the obvious culprits - and maybe smaller vessels too. I hope there are systems in place to prevent that happening.


At 13/5/06 4:23 pm, Blogger peterquixote said...

very interesting due, i see the diddlyo team have had some interational recognition of their "proactive " didlymo program,
now what do you think their of that idea TJ? is that not fucking amazing verbal skill,

what would you have to do to be retro on this horse has bolted, down the road,

At 15/5/06 9:08 am, Blogger Lesly said...

Tim, - I bet 90% of the country is unaware of the threat from this Aussie-mozzie (or of the true impact of uncontrolled didymo, either)

One would hope that someone somewhere would be putting together an intelligent TV documentary feature to inform and warn the public of the potential dangers? (as opposed to pathetic 'conspiracy-theory' items and/or 'a Kiwi was there' stories).

But I doubt it, don't you?


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