Good progress on TB control

  • David Carter
Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

New Zealand has reversed a decade-long upward trend in Bovine Tuberculosis infected cattle and deer herd numbers, Associate Food and Fibre Minister David Carter said today.

"The latest figures from the Animal Health Board show there were 696 Tb infected cattle herds and 102 Tb infected deer herds in May 1999.

"This means we have more than halved the infected herd numbers since 1994. That's very good news," Mr Carter said.

"In 1994 infected cattle herds numbered 1484 compared to the current 696. Infected deer herd numbers have dropped from 230 in 1994 to 102 today.

"The continuing downward trend is great but there is still no room for complacency," Mr Carter said.

"Tb represents a major risk to our exports and must be further contained. Even with the recent drop in infected herd numbers, New Zealand's Tb levels remain high by international standards.

"Currently we have 1.15 percent of cattle and deer herds infected with Tb. Whilst this is significantly less than the peak in 1994 of 2.7 percent, it is still too high. The international standard for official 'freedom' from Tb is 0.2 percent of herds infected," Mr Carter said.

"A four-pronged approach is currently being used to combat Tb.

"Careful surveillance is carried out for Tb in cattle and deer herds, and in wild animals which carry Tb such as possums, ferrets, wild pigs and wild deer. Cattle and deer are tested for Tb and animals that test positive are slaughtered. Pest control programmes are in place for wildlife populations of potential carriers.

"The fourth measure, controlling the movement of cattle and deer has, this month, been considerably enhanced with the introduction on 1 July of a new national identification ear tag system for cattle and deer," Mr Carter said.

"The Government is working in partnership with farmers, landowners, regional councils and the farming industry to fund moves aimed at eradicating Tb," Mr Carter said.