It’s timely to do this now as the programme plans to move fully into long-term surveillance (routine checks to be sure no infection is around).
Over the coming weeks, the programme will look at all the information concerning previously infected properties (262). The farms being considered are based on farm type, the original lab testing data, and how infectious they were – i.e. how many properties they went on to infect.
The programme will use the knowledge it now has of the disease and advanced software tools that have been developed. These have a greater ability to model spread and risk and can fill in NAIT gaps, so we can better understand any risks that could remain.
This will be largely a desk-based exercise – we expect very few farmers will need to be contacted by the programme for follow up. In the unlikely event the programme finds anything of concern, further testing will be carried out.
Network assurance is an important and common part of any big disease eradication programme. Doing this work is best practice and will give us confidence that when we ultimately declare freedom from disease, we have considered everything and have found as many of the infected animals out there as we possibly can.
The programme will work with the few farmers that might need follow up to make sure they have the support they need and the work is progressed swiftly.
The project has, in part, been developed because of poor NAIT compliance/animal movement recording. It will enable the programme to check gaps in animal movement records, closing potential risks and make our biosecurity system stronger.
To date, affected farmers have sacrificed a lot for the M. bovis eradication effort. We owe it to them to ensure we have looked for every risk of infection and addressed it.
The response to M. bovis has also shown the importance and tremendous value of recording cattle movements in NAIT. This is something everyone needs to do to protect themselves, their business partners and the sector. Please go to https://www.ospri.co.nz/ or call the NAIT Contact Centre on 0800 482 463 if you are unsure about what to do.