The New Zealand Veterinary Association has some advice for animal owners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This will be essential to stop the infection spreading and to ensure M.bovis isn’t re-introduced into NZ,” says NZVA president Dr Peter Blaikie.
“From an animal welfare point of view, eradication is the best option so we should give it our best shot,” Blaikie says.
“For that reason, NZVA will throw its support behind the eradication plan.
“We agree with the government and industry’s assessment that eradication will not be easy and will come at huge personal and financial cost to farmers.
“The government has acknowledged that there could come a time when the decision to eradicate might be abandoned. However, that time is not now.”
To give the eradication plan the best chance of succeeding, it is essential that farmers work closely with their local veterinarians, Blaikie says.
“This infection is difficult to identify, hard to test for and hard to treat. For that reason, if we want to stop the spread of the bacteria it is essential that veterinarians have real and regular onfarm contact with herds.
“Unless that happens, there is a real risk that new infections won’t be identified quickly enough and M.bovis could continue to spread.
“There have been media reports about one of the farms involved in this outbreak using a veterinarian located 1600km away. That sort of approach will not support the eradication plan and NZVA does not support it.
“We will continue to advocate for quality onfarm relationships that support animal welfare, responsible use of veterinary medicines and strong biosecurity. This outbreak underscores how important it is for veterinarians to have a real and regular on-farm presence.”
Blaikie acknowledges what a difficult time this has been for farmers, rural communities and the veterinarians working with them.
“Farmers have been under a lot of pressure over recent months and widespread culling of herds will add to this distress.
“I also want to acknowledge the hard work done by vets during this outbreak. At times this has been challenging and emotionally draining for them.”