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NZ helps combat international animal disease

25 May 2004

New Zealand helps combat international animal disease outbreaks.

The New Zealand government signed an international agreement last night with Ireland, Canada, USA, Australia and the UK to combat animal disease outbreaks in these countries.

The agreement enables these countries to combine their efforts by supplying experts including veterinarians, laboratory diagnosticians, animal health technicians and emergency managers to combat animal disease outbreaks together. It will also be an opportunity for these experts to discuss and exchange information to better understand and combat developing diseases.

“Arrangements between these countries to provide emergency assistance have historically been informal but always important” said Dr Allen Bryce, from the Ministry or Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).

“The countries have cooperated in many instances, one example being the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the UK.

“This agreement officially ensures these signatory countries can rely on each other to provide assistance and expert support should an animal disease outbreak occur” said Dr Bryce.

The agreement was signed by Chief Veterinary Officers from the six countries at the May conference of the Office International des Èpizooties, the world organisation for animal health, in Paris.

“While the primary objective of sending New Zealand animal health personnel to work in overseas outbreak responses is to provide assistance where it is needed, it also provides invaluable experience that we use to strengthen our own preparedness” said Dr Bryce.

MAF arranged for about 30 New Zealand personnel to the UK in the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak, and this year New Zealand has provided staff to assist with avian influenza control in Vietnam, Cambodia and Canada.

“International cooperation and understanding is an important step to combat animal disease outbreaks around the world” said Dr Bryce.

ENDS

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