Media Release

Mosquito detections highlight biosecurity efforts

2 June 2014

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said recent detections of Asian Tiger and Dengue mosquitoes in Australia highlighted the need for strong biosecurity efforts to prevent serious health impacts to all Australians.

“All 38 detections of exotic mosquitoes on the mainland in the past five years have been successfully eradicated – due in a large part to the cross-government collaboration these responses require,” Minister Joyce said.

“The most dangerous living creature you will meet in Africa is a mosquito. The most dangerous living creature in South East Asia is a mosquito.

“But Australia is in a continual battle against many of the world’s most voracious and deadly mosquito varieties – like the Asian tiger mosquito and the Dengue mosquito – both of which are capable of transmitting viruses like dengue and yellow fever, and Chikungunya.

“The World Health Organisation says Dengue fever infects between 50 and 100 million people worldwide each year and causes up to 25,000 deaths a year. I do not want Australians to be part of this tally.

“Our biosecurity defence against these 4mm killers is to keep them out of Australia – not an easy task with a 7.7 million km2 landmass to protect against these tiny vectors of disease,” Minister Joyce said.

Currently, Asian tiger mosquitoes are present throughout the Torres Strait and Dengue fever mosquitoes are in pockets of Queensland and are currently being eradicated from Tennant Creek.

“The latest detection and eradication, last month at Perth airport, and two months previously at Adelaide and Melbourne airports, shows the coordinated response arrangements we have with the Australian Department of Health, as well as with state and territory health departments.”

The Department of Agriculture monitors 84 airports and seaports across Australia and conducts regular surveillance and trapping at those locations. The department also monitors across northern Australia for mosquito detections and works offshore to reduce the risk mosquitoes arrive in the first place.

“Whilst it is vitally important for our agricultural sector and its $39 billion export market share, biosecurity is just as important for all Australians and maintaining our way of life.”