Don’t forget about TB

While Mycoplasma bovis has captured headlines in the past 18 months, TB continues to be problematic in small pockets of the country particularly in the South Island.
Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Kevin Crews, Head of Disease Management for OSPRI, the organisation which manages the TBfree programme, says there has been spike in cases in the Strath-Taieri area where there have been “niggles” over the past two to three years.

He says TB has been found in ferrets, pigs and possums in the area and work is underway to see whether it is related to the incidence in cattle herds.
“It’s not a major problem but it is causing a spike.”

It is a reminder that farmers need too continue to be vigilant about TB and follow best-practice around routine testing, grazing and purchasing animals, pest control and ensuring all ASD and NAIT requirements are fulfilled and up-to-date.

This is minor glitch is what has otherwise been a highly successful TBfree control programme which has reduced the incidence of TB infected herds down from a peak of over 1700 in the last 1980s and early 90s, to just 32 in June of this year.

Only two of these infected herds are in the North Island, the majority are in the West Coast, with small clusters in the Marlborough mountains and in the Strath Taieri area.
Crews says in late 1970s, control programmes had also reduced the incidence of TB to very low numbers, however a lapse in control measures saw numbers soar within five years – hence the need to remain vigilant even when numbers are low.

OSPRI’s TB Plan aims to achieve freedom from TB in livestock within nine years and freedom from TB is possums by 2040. By 2055 it is hoped that NZ will be completely free of the disease.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a partner organisation of OSPRI.

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