Tb Outbreak Affecting 36 Herds

Herds free from bovine tuberculosis (Tb) for decades are now caught in a fresh outbreak at Hari Hari.

Nine herds at Hari Hari and Waitaha are dealing with infections after the first herd was diagnosed in July 2020.

Ospri Tb Free NZ said the area had suffered sporadic infections over the past two decades, and the last infection was in 2019, after catching the disease from infected wildlife.

Ospri said it is important to note Hari Hari has always been deemed a risky area. The ongoing possum control programme in the area is an attempt to manage the Tb in the wildlife.

Ospri planned to increase the possum control programme budget to $9m over the next five years.

The 2021-22 pest control programme is already underway, with ground control completed in December to be followed by aerial 1080 poisoning in One One and Ianthe.

Ospri had implemented annual Tb testing of all animals over three months old and testing before moving stock to grazing or for sale. It also does blood tests on animals from infected herds and any animal that reacts to the skin test in cleared herds to help with removing infected animals.

As part of Ospri's response plan, it is providing NAIT education support and advice for farmers to help them with disease management.

Reducing the possum population and controlling Tb would also reduce infections in other stock, such as deer, said Ospri. However, Hari Hari dairy farmer Mary Molloy is unconvinced.

Molloy said the situation doesn't add up. Only one or two farmers were dealing with the infection until the outbreak, and none of the other farms has had issues for two to three decades.

According to Ospri, 10 of the 36 infected herds are on the West Coast, and 17 are in Hawke's Bay.