Embargo on Importation of Dracaena Shipped in Standing Water
On July 2, CDC implemented an embargo on the importation of Dracaena shipments in standing water, which could introduce mosquito species not widely seen in the United States. This embargo only affects importation of Dracaena shipments in standing water: shipments of Dracaena in dry containers are not affected by this embargo.
The Los Angeles district office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified CDC that it had identified maritime cargo containers of "lucky bamboo" (Dracaena species), an ornamental plant, that were infested with mosquitoes. CDC subsequently identified the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, a species previously not seen in California, and other species of mosquitoes associated with these cargo containers. The Dracaena in the infested cargo containers was shipped in small boxes with two to three inches of standing water. Shipments of Dracaena with no standing water or associated mosquito infestation have been arriving in the United States from China, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica and other countries as air and maritime cargo for at least 3 years. CDC and the USDA are working with international exporters of Dracaena regarding options for cargo now arriving in standing water and for future importations to the United States.
Dracaena shipments in standing water appear to pose a considerable risk of importing exotic mosquitoes into the United States. Aedes albopictus has not established a population in California, although it is widely established in the eastern half of the United States. Aedes albopictus is capable of transmitting human diseases such as western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and dengue viruses. There have been precedents of accidental introduction of mosquito species of public health importance into the United States by a similar mechanism, i.e., by importation of materials containing standing water.