4 Feb 2016

Zika cases on the rise in NZ

6:59 pm on 4 February 2016

Five cases of Zika have been reported in New Zealand in the last week, bringing the total number of people treated for the disease this year to 11.


Photo: 123rf

The latest Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research figures show four women and one man have been confirmed as having Zika fever, which has been linked to microcephaly, a severe birth defect.

The most recent cases bring the total for the year to 10 confirmed cases and one probable case.

Of the six female patients, one was a child aged between five and 14, one was aged 15 to 24, and two women were between 25 and 44 years old.

In 2014 there were 57 Zika notifications, last year there were six.

Routine border inspections at Auckland International Airport have picked up three mosquitos of the type which carry the Zika virus, on three occasions, in the past 12 months.

Ministry for Primary Industries manager of detection technology Brett Hickman said border officials had found Aedes aegypti, which could carry the virus linked to severe birth defects.

Mr Hickman said it was not known exactly how the three Aedes aegypti entered the country.

"As far as an adult is concerned, if it was actually in the airspace within an aircraft our audits show that it would be dead.

"So the other possibility is the fact that it could've been in someone's actual luggage and then when you open the luggage at the airport, it's there."

Mr Hickman said New Zealand had one of the world's strongest biosecurity systems and there were robust measures in place to prevent the introduction of new mosquito species.