Border health

Population Health is responsible for making sure international craft entering New Zealand are free of serious public health risks posed by people and vectors such as mosquitoes and rats.

Ships arriving from overseas need to receive health clearance from a health protection officer before they can arrive.  Ships also require a ship sanitation certificate which must be renewed every six months.

Most commercial flights arriving in New Zealand are deemed to automatically have health clearance, but the captain must alert a health protection officer if there is an infectious disease risk on-board. 

Unscheduled flights such as private jets must be met on arrival by a health protection officer, regardless of the health status onboard.

Border health risks

Exotic mosquitoes
Some mosquitoes are capable of carrying and transmitting infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.  Fortunately the most capable vectors are not normally found in New Zealand. Our health protection officers undertake mosquito surveillance at the border. 

This is to prevent exotic mosquitoes from becoming established in New Zealand. Health protection officers also take calls from the public about suspected exotic mosquitoes.

Sick passengers
The most common infectious illness coming into New Zealand by ships and aircraft is gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting). While it is not often serious in people who are usually healthy, gastroenteritis can cause complications in the young, elderly, and others with poor immune systems.

There are some causes of gastroenteritis that can be quite harmful such as VTEC (external link) so it is important that sick passengers and crew are referred for medical assessment. When the health protection officers are notified of an illness on a craft they can decide what action is necessary to protect the health of New Zealanders and the other passengers and crew.

Crews of ships and planes must be able to deal with contamination to prevent further spread of the disease.

Rats
Rats pose a risk to public health for a number of reasons.

Their fleas are capable of transmitting plague, and the rats themselves can spread diseases such as typhus, leptosporosis and many more through their urine, faeces and bites.

Ship sanitation

International commerical ships require a ship sanitation certificate which must be renewed at an appropriate port somewhere in the world every six months. In New Zealand, this is conducted by health protection officers.

The renewal process includes an audit of the ship's health procedures including cleaning, waste management and medical facilities, and a physical inspection of certain parts of the vessel.

Resources

Contact (07) 838 2569 if you have any questions about biosecurity or if you think you have found an exotic mosquito phone 0800 MOZZIE.