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Disease Warning Issued for New Zealanders

24 November 2014

NEW ZEALAND – An agricultural advisory body is urging farmers to be on the lookout for a tick-carried disease after spreading from Northland to the south island this year.

Farmers should be actively managing the risk of ticks to their herds and conscious of the risks when moving cattle, advises Dairy New Zealand.

Theileria, a blood-borne parasite causing anaemia in only cattle, was confirmed on the South Island in spring this year after identification in Northland in late 2012, where it is now widespread.

A population of infected ticks either in Canterbury or the west coast is responsible for transmitting infection to a 188 cow dairy herd on Southland’s west coast, according to the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Cattle are at risk when moved to areas where infected ticks are present, said DairyNZ technical veterinary advisor, Dr Nita Harding.

Likewise, if an infected animal is transported, it can spread infection to ticks in the new location, in turn spreading disease to uninfected animals.

“We are concerned that there may be infected tick populations in the South Island now. This latest case was linked to cows being grazed in the Canterbury area and then being brought back to the West Coast,” said Dr Harding.

“It’s important that farmers remain vigilant and monitor stock, particularly weaned calves at this time of year."

Moving stock to a tick-infested area should be carefully considered and stock should re regularly checked for signs of anaemia, Dairy New Zealand are advising. 

Further Reading

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