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Wildlife Vets Help Keep Shores Free From Disease

24 April 2008

Wildlife Veterinarians Help Keep Our Shores Free From Disease

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) says World Veterinary Day, Saturday 26 April, is a great opportunity to highlight the important wildlife work many of its members are involved in, Iike Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) veterinarian Susan Cork.

New Zealanders can sleep easy knowing we’re free from avian influenza (AI) and vector-borne diseases[1] thanks to the watchful eye of many highly trained veterinarians, like MAF Biosecurity team leader Susan.

While AI might have slipped out of the news headlines and the risk of it arriving here is small, experts like Susan and her virology team at MAF Biosecurity are constantly monitoring our migratory shorebirds and waterfowl to make sure the status quo remains.

“We collect information on the disease status of a range of species including wild birds, marine mammals, fish and insects and ensure that any micro-organisms identified pose no threat to the New Zealand ecosystem, livestock and public health,” says Susan.

“Passive and targeted wildlife surveillance also acts as an early warning system should an unwanted disease arrive on our shores, allowing us time to implement any one of a number of response plans.”

She says World Veterinary Day is a fantastic occasion to salute the vital role veterinarians play in protecting public health and our unique New Zealand ecosystem from outbreaks of disease.

“The worldwide celebration is also a great time to raise awareness of the many different job prospects available to veterinarians,” she says.

Susan has travelled all over the world working for different organisations on a variety of projects monitoring and researching animals in Fiji, Hungary, Italy, Bhutan, United Kingdom and New Zealand.

“Much of the work we do as veterinarians, and especially as virologists, is preparation and prevention work behind the scenes. But it’s exciting and rewarding to be involved in a career where we can potentially have such an important role in protecting New Zealand’s native species, our nation’s public health and the environment.”

World Veterinary Day recognises all the work vets do, not just in traditional areas of animal health and welfare, but also in areas such as wildlife, biosecurity, food, conservation, environmental study and disaster management.


[1] Diseases transmitted from animal to animal, or animal to person by mosquitoes or other arachnids

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