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Tracing of Canadian cattle imports

As a precautionary measure, all cattle traced following confirmation of BSE in a Canadian cow earlier this week will be checked by vets.

Carolyn Hini, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Acting Director Animal Biosecurity, said the 14 cattle are located on five North Island properties and the inspections will take place over the next week.

“Tracing has revealed that a group of 16 cattle was imported into New Zealand in 1999. Since then two of these have died of natural causes. One was buried and the other was rendered.

“The remaining cattle will continue to be monitored as part of regulations in place for imported ruminants, and they pose no risk,” she said.

Monitoring includes mandatory ear tagging system and a national register of all imported cattle which enables MAF to keep track of cattle movements, owners details whether the animal has been sold, slaughtered or died of natural causes.

Dr Hini confirmed that MAF will continue to trace any possible Canadian cattle imports as far back as 1989. This is twice the length of time required under international standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

New Zealand operates a rigorous programme to ensure the early detection of BSE should it ever arrive here. This includes ongoing surveillance involving animals showing signs of nervous disease, abattoir surveys, and monitoring of imported animals. MAF tests more than 3000 brain samples a year. There is also a prohibition on the feeding of ruminant protein to ruminants – the way the disease is spread.

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