The mosquito capable of carrying the Zika virus has been detected at Sydney International Airport.
The Daily Mail reports the Aedus Aegypti mosquito that was previously thought to only be present in tropical areas in northern Australia has been detected at Sydney International Airport after routine surveillance uncovered the mosquito.
The Federal Department of Agriculture has since stepped up spraying procedures on international plane arrivals.
Aedus Aegypti carries and spreads viruses like Zika, which is causing the current outbreak of brain-affected babies in Brazil, as well as dengue fever, yellow fever and an arthritis-like virus called Chikungunya.
After finding the mosquitoes at Sydney International, the Department of Agriculture will increase spraying inside the cabins on arrival of all flights landing from South-East Asian ports.
New South Wales Health has also reported two confirmed cases of Zika virus infection, both acquired in Haiti. These are the first cases reported in Australia for 2016.
The Department of Agriculture said it was imposing ‘additional on arrival treatments for aircraft arriving from South East Asian ports at Sydney Airport’.
‘Australian legislation requires the treatment with insecticides of all international aircraft arriving in Australia,’ the department said in a statement of Tuesday.
‘Following recent detection of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes at Sydney International Airport, additional response protocols were initiated jointly by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Department of Health NSW to prevent this species from establishing.’
The extra protocols included ‘insecticide fogging at the detection site and surrounding environment, residual surface treatments and ongoing enhanced surveillance including the deployment of additional mosquito vector monitoring traps’.
‘These measures are undertaken to prevent these mosquitoes establishing breeding populations in Australia thereby preventing the potential for the local spread of these diseases,’ the department said.
‘The mosquitoes have only been found within the confines of the international airport terminal and have not been detected beyond this site.’
Queensland health was already monitoring in the Torres Strait to ensure any cases were detected early and didn’t enter the state ‘through its porous northern borders with Papua New Guinea’.
The state’s health minister Cameron Dick urged Far North Queenslanders to take preventative action, including destroying mosquito breeding sites.
The federal government is warning pregnant women to avoid or delay travel to countries experiencing the outbreak.
The World Health Organisation has declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus to be an international public health emergency.
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