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Team Work Eradicates Important Pig Disease from NZ

Joint effort by the pork industry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has succeeded in ridding New Zealand of an important viral infection in pigs, Aujeszkey's disease, also known as pseudo-rabies.

The Group Director of the MAF Biosecurity Agency, Barry O'Neil, and the Chairman of New Zealand Pork, Neil Managh, announced today that New Zealand has completed eradication procedures and declared national freedom from the virus infection.

The declaration of freedom has been sent to the World Animal Health Organization in Paris, the OIE.

Aujeszkey's disease was first found in the North Island of New Zealand in 1976, and appeared to have been present in a mild form for a few years. By the mid-1980s, the disease had spread more widely in the North Island, while the South Island remained free.

The pork industry then decided to take the initiative and undertake an industry-funded eradication program. A low cost strategy using vaccination and "test and cull" was developed, and implemented jointly from 1986 by New Zealand Pork and MAF.

This was highly successful, and infection was eradicated from the last herd by 1997. Subsequent intensive monitoring and investigation of both domestic and wild pigs confirmed freedom from the virus in both islands - the South Island had never become infected.

New Zealand Pork Chairman Neil Managh said he was delighted that eradication had been completed successfully. “This removes an infection which was spreading and causing problems in some herds, and was a barrier to movement of New Zealand pigs and pig products overseas”, said Mr Managh.

“It provides a good model of the potential for some diseases to be eradicated as an industry initiative, not solely by government decision. New Zealand pigs overall have possibly the best overall health status of any country in the world, and we hope to reap the benefit of this in future years.”


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