One of the diseases most feared by farmers, leptospirosis, is being discussed at the Veterinary Association's annual conference in Hamilton this week.
The livestock disease is most commonly associated with the dairy and pig industries and can be transmitted to humans by way of infected animal urine.
It can produce flu-like symptoms and, in rare cases, causes death.
Last year, there were 70 cases of leptospirosis in humans, down from 875 in 1974 when farmers first started vaccinating their herds against the disease.
The Rural Women New Zealand organisation, which chairs the Leptospirosis Action Group, also credits the decline to a growing public awareness of the disease.
Spokesperson Fiona Gower says whole communities are affected when farmers contract the disease, such as when a family sells up and leaves the community.
She advises farmers to use gloves and face masks when dealing with infected animals.
Rural Women New Zealand stepped up its leptospirosis awareness campaign in 2006 following the death of a meat worker.