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Operation Waiheke Update

Operation Waiheke Update

MAF’s surveillance activities on Waiheke Island have not detected any evidence of foot and mouth disease symptoms amongst the 12,500 potentially susceptible livestock on the island.

Nearly seven days have now passed since the date (Monday 9 May 2005) that a threat letter claimed to have released foot and mouth disease virus on Waiheke Island. We have passed the average incubation date based on UK foot and mouth disease studies, so had the virus been released, symptoms of the disease should have started to appear.

The New Zealand Police believe that the threats outlined in the letter pose a very low level of threat. This belief has been supported by Australian Police threat assessment experts.

These points, and the continuing passage of time with no animals presenting foot and mouth disease symptoms, reinforce the belief of MAF and Police officials that this incident is most probably a hoax.

A GPS-equipped helicopter has this weekend surveyed Waiheke Island to confirm that all livestock have been accounted for, and to check the numbers and locations of feral goats and pigs.

MAF is confident it has identified all susceptible livestock on the island. The approximately 12,500 susceptible livestock comprise about 10,500 sheep and about 2,000 head of cattle. A handful of other farmed animals have been identified, including pigs, llamas and alpacas.

Egyptian officials have confirmed that they will accept consignments of meat and dairy products shipped from New Zealand prior to 9 May 2005. This issue should be satisfactorily resolved before those consignments arrive.

Mexico has now confirmed that all consignments shipped before 10 May 2005 can be cleared for entry. This decision should clear the way for consignments currently at the Mexican border or due to arrive soon. Mexican authorities are currently reviewing further information which has been provided about the situation in New Zealand. A response to this is expected early next week. This issue should be satisfactorily resolved before those consignments arrive.

New Zealand exports continue to flow smoothly into our major markets including the US, EU and other European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and South America.

MAF’s contact number for Waiheke Island farmers who may have concerns about the health status of their livestock is 0800 80 99 66. Other New Zealand farmers who have animal health concerns should contact their local veterinarian.

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