TB infected possums found in Mount Cargill area
Possums infected with bovine tuberculosis (TB) have been found as part of OSPRI’s work to determine the cause of the TB infection in a number of Mount Cargill herds, North of Dunedin, Otago.
In early December 2015, following the discovery of TB in three Mount Cargill herds, OSPRI’s TBfree programme took immediate action to manage and control the disease on the properties.
An initial possum survey to determine the presence of TB in the local wildlife over a 960 hectare area was completed in February 2016. A total of 1,364 possums were recovered from the operation. Following necropsy and further testing, six possums were found with an Otago strain of TB.
Further laboratory testing is now underway to determine where the infection originated from. One ferret has also been identified with TB.
Slaughter and TB testing has now identified four TB infected herds in the area. OSPRI is continuing to work closely with these herd owners through what can be a stressful time for them.
TBfree Otago Committee Chair Ross Wilson said the understanding of the Mount Cargill community and the support they have given TBfree and their contractor during this time has been outstanding and is greatly appreciated.
With TB now confirmed in six possums within the Mount Cargill area, further surveillance is being planned to get a better picture of the potential spread of the disease in local wildlife.
This further surveillance work will involve ferret surveys. Area Disease Manager, Garry Knowles said ferrets scavenge TB infected possums and can become infected with the disease. Ferret surveys are a key way of monitoring the disease status in vector (carriers of the disease) populations.
Further possum control work is also being planned for the coming year with the aim to further reduce the possum population in the wider Mount Cargill / Waitati area.
TBfree has introduced further measures to reduce the risk to cattle and deer herds in the area and is looking to expand the testing programme of all herds in the wider area over the next few months.
Staff from OSPRI will be available at the Blueskin Bay A&P Show on the 10th April. Programme Extension Officer, Nikki Penno said this will give people the opportunity to drop in and discuss what’s happening and what it might mean for them, as well as help local farmers with their TBfree and NAIT requirements.