Natural hazards and emergencies

Biological hazards

There is a large range of biological hazards that if not controlled, avoided or managed could significantly affect human health or affect New Zealand’s economy. Industry sectors such as agriculture and fisheries can be adversely affected, as well as human and animal health and infrastructure such as water supply and treatment networks.


Potential threats

Plagues and epidemic can cause widespread loss of life.

  • Foot and mouth disease could seriously affect the agriculture industry.
  • Algal blooms can affect water supply.
  • The swift growing Kudzu vine, and the fruit fly can affect agricultural and horticultural industries.
  • The painted apple moth could threaten the forestry sector.

Due to New Zealand’s economic dependence on the horticultural, agricultural and forestry industries, and limited historical exposure to such hazards, Auckland is very susceptible.



Consequences of biological hazards

The actual consequences affecting Auckland depend on the nature of each hazard and our ability to respond.

Some of the consequences may include:

Animal epidemic e.g mad cow disease

  • Destruction of and economic losses to Auckland’s dairy and cattle industries.
  • Loss of exports from these markets.
  • Reduction in or cessation of some imports.
  • Loss of employment and some businesses.
  • Competition and habitat reduction for some native animal species and potential loss of these species from Auckland.
  • Spread of disease to other animals.
  • Serious human health risks.

Other animal epidemic or disease

  • Destruction of and economic losses to Auckland’s forestry, fruit and produce, wine or fisheries industries.
  • Loss of exports from these markets.
  • Loss of employment and businesses.
  • Habitat reduction and loss of some species from Auckland.

Human epidemic

  • Loss of life.
  • Stretched medical services and facilities.
  • Widespread social and psychological disruption and isolation.
  • Absence of staff could lead to the loss of production and economic losses.
  • Loss of international reputation and tourism, with residual effect for some years following recovery.
  • Restricted access to some international destinations for people and exports.


Biological hazards in New Zealand

There have been threats of biological hazards or actual hazards in New Zealand in the past.

Some of these include:

Foot and mouth disease
There has never been a case of foot and mouth disease in New Zealand, in people nor animals. Hand foot and mouth disease is an unrelated disease of humans.

Classical swine fever
Classical swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs that can cause high mortalities. Two cases have been reported.

Painted apple moth
The leaf-eating caterpillar of the painted apple moth poses a significant risk to our forests and horticultural industries. It was found living in parts of west Auckland in May 1999 and was eliminated by spraying done by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Ross River virus
The southern saltmarsh mosquito known to carry the virus that causes Ross River disease, Aedes camptorhyncus, was found in New Zealand for the first time in December 1998, in the Hawkes Bay. Since then, it has also been found in parts of Tairawhiti, in the Kaipara and in some parts of east Auckland.



More information

Visit the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Health websites.

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