3 Feb 2009

Southland herds finally free of TB

8:46 am on 3 February 2009

Bovine tuberculosis has been cleared from the last infected cattle herd in Southland.

The region has achieved its target of eliminating the disease in cattle and deer herds four years ahead of projections set by the Animal Health Board's eradication programme.

Rates peaked in Southland in 1997, with 54 infected herds.

Animal Health Board spokesman Nick Hancox said the organisation, in partnership with the Southland regional council, has spent about $50 million over ten years surveying and controlling the possum, ferret and pig populations which carry the disease.

He said various controls were used but the eradication of the final source of infection was largely due to the targeted use of 1080 poison, in particular an aerial drop over the Hokonui Hills in 2004.

Mr Hancox says bovine TB testing will continue along with surveys and control of the wild animal population to keep the region free of the disease.