TB infects cattle; herd quarantined

A 200-odd dairy herd in Inglewood is under strict quarantine following tuberculosis detected among the cows.

While investigating the source of the infection, the Animal Health Board (AHB) is taking immediate action to manage and control the disease on the property.

AHB Northern North Island regional co-ordinator Frank Pavitt says cattle can only move off the infected property with the AHB's permission. The infected herd will have regular TB tests and the AHB will ensure all neighbouring herds have had a recent test, or will have one later this year.

"There are a number of possible sources of the disease and at this early stage of the investigation no cause is being ruled out," says Frank.

The Taranaki region has two bovine TB-infected herds. The second is in south Taranaki after a cluster of herds tested positive to the disease in 2009. It is potentially close to being declared free of infection.

TBfree Taranaki Committee chairman Donald McIntyre says an infected herd places added stress for the owner, with financial costs and disruptions to farm management routines, often for a year or more while the disease is eliminated.

"It is never pleasant to find TB in your herd and this recent case is a stark reminder that the disease still poses a threat to farmed cattle and deer in the region," says Donald. "I strongly urge local farmers to manage the risk of introducing the disease into their herd by carefully checking the Animal Status Declaration (ASD) forms of all stock arriving on their property."

The AHB says all cattle and deer herd owners in Taranaki can help manage and control this disease by ensuring they register their herd, meet their testing requirements, correctly tag their stock and complete ASD forms for all stock movements. "Prevention is far better than cure," says Frank.

He adds that this outbreak poses no health risk to the public, as pasteurisation kills the bacteria in the milk and infected cows is withdrawn from production as soon as the disease is detected. Slaughterhouses also check for TB and destroy and report any infected matter. In addition, Frank says, possums, which are maintenance hosts able to pass on the disease, in the area will be tested as an added precaution. "There is no reason at this stage to believe that local wildlife is involved."

Call 0800 482 4636 or visit www.tbfree.org.nz for more information.

- Stratford Press

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