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Published: 2004-09-15 00:00:00

New Zealand is on track to be free of bovine Tb by 2013, this week’s Environment Waikato Biosecurity Committee meeting heard.

Animal Health Board National Disease Northern Control Manager Dr Mark Bosson told the Committee that by June 2006 an increased area of New Zealand would be classified as “provisionally free” of Tb.

The Board had been very successful in the last 10 years in reducing the number of herds testing positive for Tb from 1700 to 350, but it had been less successful in reducing the geographic expansion of the Tb ‘vector risk’ area – where pests spreading Tb were present.

Results suggested that the Board may be preventing transmission between wildlife carriers and stock, but may not be as effective in removing infection and preventing transmission among wildlife, he said.

Populations of Tb-infected animals needed to be effectively controlled and eradicate where there was direct contact with herds, as well as a ”buffer” between large wildlife habitat areas and stock herds.

Key issues in the Waikato included focusing on key areas where there was a history of high incidence of infected herds, he said. It was also important to confirm the absence of infection in herds and wildlife areas where it was proposed to cease Tb possum control.

It was necessary to maintain an effective control model to ensure continuing success in all other areas. Herds in high risk areas needed to be tested more frequently, he said.

He said the Waikato was doing well in progressing towards being Tb free. The aim was to have fewer than 12 out of 1000 herds testing clear by 2009 and the Waikato had already reduced numbers to 13.

Measures to improve results included rapid and early detection of infection in herds, rapid removal of infection from herds and preventing the movement of diseased or high risk animals.