Insight Into NZ TB Control

NEW ZEALAND - The New Zealand Animal Health Board has published a new educational resource about bovine tuberculosis (TB), designed to educate younger farmers without first hand experience of TB about both the risks of complacency and the need to continue controlling the disease, writes Charlotte Johnston, TheCattleSite editor.
calendar icon 12 January 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

Nearly all of New Zealand’s major international trading partners have attained this standard of TB freedom, but New Zealand continues to have a relatively high level of TB infection.

In order to reach TB free status, 99.8 per cent of domestic cattle and deer herds must be free of bovine TB for three years. This figure has been set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

In New Zealand, TB is spread through close contact with other animals in a herd, or contact with wild animals such as possums and ferrets.

Infected cattle are culled, and uninfected cattle from the same herd are often sold at heavily reduced prices.

The main aim of New Zealand’s TB control programme is to eradicate TB from wildlife, mainly possums, across 2.5 million hectares – or one quarter – of New Zealand’s at-risk areas by 2026. This goal was endorsed by farmers, industry and local and central Government who want to protect our reputation as a supplier of safe, high quality meat and dairy products.

Cattle and deer are regularly tested through a skin test, or very rarely a blood test.

Herds in around 40 per cent of NZ are in high risk areas.

Possum Control

Evidence shows that a vast majority of new infections in domestic livestock can be traced back to possums.

A range of techniques is used to control possum and ferret populations, including traps and toxins. Where it is impractical to use ground control techniques, aerial application of biodegradable toxin 1080 is used.

The control work is strictly regulated to keep possum populations a low levels until the disease cycle is broken.

Control continues, as as well as been a TB vector, possums are an introduced mammal and a conservation pest - which means the public supports the cull.

The series, Making TB History, takes an in-depth look at New Zealand’s history of TB through the eyes of the farmers, vets and TB-testers working at the front line of the battle to bring the disease under control. It is a collection of personal accounts told in words, pictures and a series of short videos, examining the financial and emotional impact of the disease on rural communities and the extraordinary efforts of organisations and individuals who worked tirelessly to bring New Zealand closer than ever to bringing TB under control. It is the result of a year-long project undertaken by the Animal Health Board to document the disease in New Zealand and educate farmers about the risks it still poses.

Thanks to the TB free programme, TB in New Zealand is at an all time low. In 1996 there were over 1700 infected herd, by 2010 less than 100 infected herds were recognised. Despite this encouraging news, the Animal Health Board says that the industry must not become complacent now.

The TB control programme in New Zealand is guided by the National Pest Management Strategy for Bovine TB (NPMS). It is managed by the Animal Health Board under the programme name "TBfree New Zealand".

To view the Making TB History series click here.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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