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SMC: Eradication decision for M.bovis

Eradication decision for M.bovis
Cabinet decided on Monday to continue with attempts to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

It will cost an estimated $886 million over ten years but, if successful, will make New Zealand the first country to eradicate the disease, which can cause mastitis in adult cows and arthritis.

The effort will require the culling of an estimated 150,000 cows. Dr Daniel Tisch - with the University of Auckland's Department of Management and International Business - said the eradication programme would challenge farmer resilience.

"From what we know about resilience, this initial impact will be followed by a recovery period, in which the mental and emotional state of farmers will be affected for years."

"My research in New Zealand showed that those most vulnerable to shock are sharemilkers, farm labourers and dairy hands because they have daily contact with animals now suffering."

Dr Helen Beattie, Chief Veterinary Officer for the New Zealand Veterinary Association, said from a vet's point of view, "eradicating this disease is the best solution".

"It is by far the best outcome from an animal welfare point of view. Long-term, it would also be best for farmer well-being and for minimising antimicrobial use on farms, which has implications for preventing antibiotic resistance."

Fifty new field staff have been brought on for the eradication and Dr John Roche has been appointed as a science advisor.

The SMC gathered expert reaction to the eradication plan. This analysis on RNZ gives a good overview and timeline of the outbreak.

Quoted: NZ Herald
"I'm not sure that total equality should be what we are aiming for, because I guess my feeling is that a lot of women are likely to want to take time off to raise their children.

"But that should be a personal or couple choice rather than because culturally it's what's done, it shouldn't be because being a stay-at-home dad is 'weird'."

Motu Economic and Policy Research's Dr Isabelle Sin
on a new report looking at the pay penalty women experience the longer they take time off work to raise children.

Meth myths debunked
The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman has debunked the fears over meth-contaminated housing in a new report.

The report, commissioned by Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford, examined the available evidence on methamphetamine residue on household surfaces, potential health risks and how these related to testing and decontamination guidelines.

Sir Peter told Stuff: "In the absence of clear scientific and health information, there has been an assumption among the general public that the presence of even trace levels of methamphetamine residue poses a health risk."

"There is absolutely no evidence in the medical literature of anyone being harmed from passive use, at any level. We can't find one case."

The 2017 guidelines were based on a 2016 report by ESR which compared risk assessments and methamphetamine clean-up standards from California, Colorado and Australia.

Erring on the side of caution for the most vulnerable – pregnant women and toddlers – the 2016 report chose the safest, most conservative decontamination limits based on the Californian risk assessment: 2.0 micrograms per 100 cm2 for smoking residue and 0.5 micrograms per 100 cm2 for ex-labs.

Sir Peter said this is a safe “level of methamphetamine left after cleaning" for houses that had been used to manufacture the drug, but even this has a “1000-fold safety factor” built-in, and it should never have been applied to houses where P had only been smoked.

In the report, he recommended a new detection limit of 15 micrograms per 100 cm2 (10 times the current limit) that should only be used in places suspected of being clan labs, and not regular residential housing. Housing NZ immediately adopted the suggestion.

In 2016, the SMC asked toxicologists about the risk of living in homes where people had previously smoked meth. The University of Otago's Dr Leo Schep said “the risks would be similar for people who live in a house that had previous dwellers who smoked cigarettes or marijuana".

"They will have exposure to these drugs but the concentrations will not be sufficiently high enough to cause either psychoactive or toxic effects to people who may have had inadvertent, and brief, dermal contact with these surfaces.”

Environmental chemist Dr Nick Kim from Massey University also told RNZ in 2016 that “people are misinterpreting Ministry of Health guidelines on cleaning up houses where the drug, known as P, has been used,” and that the trace amounts are "way below any poisonous level".

Sir Peter compared the risk to another well-known contaminant in NZ homes: “in terms of the housing estate, mould is far more dangerous than meth”.

With his tenure in the role coming to an end, Newsroom interviewed Sir Peter about the role of a knowledge broker and presenting evidence with a politically even hand.

Policy news & developments

Data and social well-being hui: The Government’s engagement on data and social well-being got underway with the first hui held with NGOs in Manukau on Thursday.

Investment in Northland: The Government has announced a $46 million investment in jobs, housing, transport and businesses in Northland.

Microbeads ban kicks in: Many products containing plastic microbeads - which can bring harm to marine life, will be banned from sale from June 7.

Taranaki predator control: Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced a plan to eradicate pests from Taranaki will get an $11.7m funding boost from Predator Free 2050.

Science on hazardous substances: The EPA has publicly released, for feedback, the approach used to assess hazardous substances which pose risks to people and New Zealand’s environment.

Fisheries compliance reports released: MPI has released historical reports dealing with compliance risk profiling of the Southern Blue Whiting fishery, to demonstrate transparency.

China waste ban: A Government taskforce has been set up to deal with the impact of the Chinese Government’s ban on the import of many recycling materials.

Tree planting: Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced a total of 2.5m pine trees will be planted over the next three years and 465 hectares of mānuka will be planted in the far North in a joint venture between Te Uru Rākau and Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust.

Dengue fever: New Zealand will contribute $2.7 million to the World Mosquito Programme to help limit dengue fever in Fiji.

Tribute: Prof Diana Lennon

University of Auckland

Academics who worked with Auckland Professor Diana Lennon ONZM, have said the leading doctor had a limitless dedication to improving the lives of children.

Diana, or Dinny to those who knew her, died unexpectedly on May 15 from natural causes.

She will be remembered as a tireless campaigner against rheumatic fever and child health inequalities.

"Dinny was a world class researcher, inspiring teacher and mentor, and a superb clinician," a statement from the University of Auckland said.

University of Otago's Professor Michael Baker


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