Chinese authorities have ordered that "containers from [Zika infected] countries shall be subject to effective anti-mosquito treatment."

Chinese authorities have ordered that "containers from [Zika infected] countries shall be subject to effective anti-mosquito treatment."

Further details have emerged on the anti-mosquito treatment required for exports from the US to China in an attempt to prevent spread of the Zika virus.

The update from the United States Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is based on its understanding of China's measures following a meeting between US Embassy staff in Beijing and the Department of Supervision and Health Quarantine at China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

It is not official guidance, and the body recommends US exporters verify the full set of import requirements with foreign customers before any goods are shipped.

Exports from around 40 countries including Mexico and Brazil and, most recently the US, infected by the Zika virus must comply with disinsection (not to be confused with disinfection) requirements – the killing of live mosquitoes, their larva, and eggs.

But there have been fears the move could create delays and added costs for US exporters shipping goods to customers in China. There has also been confusion over what constitutes an appropriate treatment protocol including relevant certification, what chemicals should be used, and who would issue the certificate.

China Zika rules to add cost and delays to US exports

In its update, the FAS says:

  • Chinese authorities require all cargo shipments originating from the United States to provide proof of disinsection upon arrival at the Chinese port, both either air or sea. This applies to all vessels that left the United States on or after 5 August, with the exception of containers kept at or under a temperature of 15°C (59°F).
  • Disinsection treatment may be carried out by either physical or chemical means, and does not require fumigation. Physical means could include trapping, air curtains, or other integrated pest-management techniques. Chemical means could include surface spraying, space spraying, or fumigation, depending on the shipper's choice. The treatment used should take into account human health and safety.
  • Treatment can be carried out at any point during the shipping process. For example, it is acceptable for containers to be disinsected before loading, certified as mosquito free, then loaded in a mosquito-free environment.
  • Proof of disinsection does not need to be government-issued.
  • Either the vessel or the container must be certified, not the goods themselves.
  • AQSIQ has provided a template that shows what information must be included on the certificate.
  • All shipments found to contain live mosquito eggs, larvae, or mosquitoes during inspection at the Chinese port will be subject to disinsection, including shipments that are chilled below 150C (590F). Chinese authorities will direct a third party to perform any required disinsection in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. The cost will vary at each port of entry, but AQSIQ estimates it will be about RMB200 ($30) for a 20-foot container and RMB400 ($60) for a 40-foot container.
  • All WHO member countries where Zika is present will be treated in the same manner.
  • AQSIQ has not contacted airlines, shipping lines, exporters etc about the mosquito treatment requirements. Rather, AQSIQ leaves it up to each CIQ (branch office) at the port of entry to give out this information.
  • AQSIQ will perform a Zika risk assessment for Florida and neighboring states, based in part on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documentation of control measures. AQSIQ will use the assessment to determine whether to apply a regional approach in its Zika response.
  • China's policy applies to Zika and yellow fever, and will remain in effect until March 2017, subject to adjustment or renewal depending on the situation.

Click here for the full update on China's requirements for shipments from zika-infected countries.