Bovine TB detected in cattle in Hawke’s Bay

// Pests and Diseases

We want to let you know about an important development regarding bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Hawke’s Bay.

image of Catle

Due to a cluster of bovine TB infections in cattle near the Napier-Taupo road, these have been taken under close management by OSPRI.  As at 11 February, 28 cattle from eight herds are under management. A further 15 herds are currently under investigation. Some of these are expected to have infected animals.

The discovery of the disease is disappointing, as farmers have been working hard to help eradicate bovine TB and this incursion is a frustrating setback to those efforts. It also comes at a time when the sector is dealing with the impact of Mycoplasma bovis, weaner sales are underway and some farmers are looking to de-stock, partly as a result of dry conditions.

The discovery was made following routine surveillance as part of the TBfree eradication programme. Possums are the main vector of bovine TB and this cluster of infection is likely to have originated from infected possums in nearby bush on private land.

What is being done to manage the infection?

As a precautionary action, OSPRI will expand the existing Movement Control Area (MCA) in the region from 1 March. This is essential to prevent the movement of the disease to uninfected regions over the coming months.

Within these controlled areas, farmers must comply with restrictions on the movement of their stock. All cattle and deer over 90 days of age must test clear of Bovine TB within 60 days prior to being moved.

Expanding the current movement control area will impact around 570 herds in Hawke’s Bay. It means cattle heading for stock sales need to have returned a clear TB test within 60 days of moving out of the movement control area. Stock heading to processing plants are exempt from this.  

Affected farmers will be contacted by OSPRI.  

Herd testing has also been brought forward for all dairy, beef and deer herds in the newly extended MCA. Infected animals will be slaughtered to remove the disease from their herd. 

The main source of the outbreak is believed to be transmission from wildlife.  Possum control operations have been planned or brought forward to interrupt the transmission of TB between wildlife in neighbouring forest and native bush areas and livestock on Hawke’s Bay farms.

A Field HQ has been established in Napier to lead a response and will control stock movements in the vicinity to prevent any spread of disease.  Extension staff are on the ground in Napier to communicate with farmers and communities.

What are the chances of eradicating this particular infection?

OSPRI believes it can clear this latest outbreak. Hawke’s Bay has experienced Bovine TB infections twice in the past and these were successfully managed and cleared.  There has been an MCA in place in Hawke’s Bay to prevent any potential spread of disease for around 10 years.

Bovine TB is not a highly infectious disease and has been successfully managed in NZ since the 1950s. 

Small clusters of disease outbreak like this are not uncommon and are expected from time-to-time in an eradication programme such as this. 

It’s important to remember there is minimal risk to human health, though food safety authorities advise against the consumption of unpasteurised (raw) milk.

We encourage farmers to look out for each other and their families. The Rural Support Trust is available to provide support to anyone who would like it.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is supporting OSPRI in providing information for farmers and advising OSPRI on the response. 

Find out more

For more information, please visit the the OSPRI website for maps indicating operational activity and the status of possum control operations, plus information on the programme, the disease and the procedure if a reactor is found in a herd.

B+LNZ’s bio-security guidance for farmers is also available at: