OSPRI upskills inspectors to catch TB at abattoirs
Keeping vets and meat inspectors upskilled with the latest knowledge about slaughter surveillance will help ensure the eradication of TB in livestock, OSPRI's goal for 2026.
The company has been helping vets and meat inspectors around the country refresh their skills to ensure Post Mortem Surveillance is best practice to support OSPRI's risk-based approach to TB management. Former meat inspector Bill O'Connor has employed his experience to present learning modules to technicians at more than 25 meat companies, talking to inspectors and vets. With TB-infected herds down to 23 nationally, Bill explains the efficiencies Post Mortem Surveillance brings for disease management and the future of TB eradication.
Q: What is OSPRI setting out to do with this education and upskilling campaign?
A: These sessions emphasise the importance of Post Mortem Surveillance and how it fits with OSPRI's Risk Based Testing strategy.
The training shows inspectors what TB can look like – not just the traditional golden yellow tubercules found in lymph nodes, but anything that could indicate disease during inspection. The training emphasises the importance of sampling TB-like granulomas when there is some doubt about what has been found.
Sample submissions that are negative to TB are as important as positive samples. Negative samples reinforce the importance of the work we have done to clear TB in an area. Positive samples enable OSPRI to clear infected herds but also explore the cause of infection – is it from livestock that has moved into the herd or from a wildlife infection?
Q: How will these training sessions improve detection of TB? How will they help farmers with disease management and traceability?
A: Many inspectors employed in the past 10-15 years have not seen TB lesions, because there are only a few infected herds around and only a limited number of processing plants which process TB reactors.
The requirement to submit TB-like samples for laboratory analysis will help meat inspectors and MPI vets eliminate guesswork. And as soon as TB is confirmed, OSPRI Area Disease Managers and case managers can formulate a herd management plan with the farmer or community concerned, and start clearing disease from herds.
Q: Where does PMS fit with OSPRI’s Risk Based Testing model?
A: Post Mortem Surveillance is extremely important to the success of RBT because as field testing of cattle and deer reduces, more reliance will be placed on PMS to monitor their TB status. For RBT to succeed NAIT must function well too, and all PICAs must understand the importance of a national traceability programme. This will help OSPRI identify cattle and deer movements that could lead to further TB outbreaks.
In the mid 1990s, New Zealand had 1700 infected herds. The possibility of finding visible TB lesions from these cattle was very high. Now that infected herds are down to 23, and the emphasis for TB eradication is focused on getting infection out of the wildlife. That's disease management in action.
For more on this, read our factsheet Post Mortem Surveillance here.