Many of these papers were published in a special edition of the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 63.
A special supplementary issue of the New Zealand Veterinary Journal brings together an extensive body of work describing the campaign to control bovine tuberculosis in New Zealand, which started more than a century ago. The papers in this issue focus on the past 50 years, and look forward to a future where tuberculosis has been eradicated in New Zealand. All papers in this series have been made freely available as open access articles through the sponsorship of OSPRI New Zealand.
The control of bovine tuberculosis (TB) infection in cattle is a major animal health issue in many parts of the world. The mainstay of disease control in cattle is provided by testing and removal of reactor animals, which has been remarkably successful for the most part. Unfortunately, the causative agent Mycobacterium bovis is not as host-specific as its name would suggest and in addition to cattle, infection has been confirmed in a wide variety of wild mammal species, where its presence can hamper disease control efforts in livestock. This presents significant challenges for disease managers, particularly where infection is able to circulate amongst a community of wild mammal hosts, with the potential for onward spread to cattle.
The adoption of coordinated national pest management strategies, with increasingly ambitious objectives agreed between government and industry funders, has driven a costly but very successful management regime targeted at controlling TB in the possum maintenance host. This success has led to initiation of a strategy designed to eradicate TB from New Zealand's livestock and wildlife, which is considered a realistic long-term prospect.
TB in cattle and farmed deer in New Zealand can only be controlled by eliminating the disease in both domestic livestock and the wildlife reservoir.
The current understanding of TB-possum epidemiology, and the current management strategies and tactics, are sufficient to achieve local, regional, and national disease eradication from possums in New Zealand.
Ferrets scavenge potentially infected wildlife, including other ferrets, thus prevalence of TB can be amplified through ferrets feeding on tuberculous carcasses, particularly brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula).
In New Zealand, wild deer and feral pigs are assumed to be spillover hosts for Mycobacterium bovis,and so are not targeted in efforts aimed at locally eradicating bovine tuberculosis (TB) from possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), the main wildlife host.
When sympatric host species share the same infectious disease, multiple transmission pathways are possible.
TBfree's possum control programme provides an excellent example of an effective pest and disease control programme.
As New Zealand moves from large-scale TB control to regional eradication of disease in the coming years, further integrative models will need to be developed to support management decisions, based on combined field data of possum and TB prevalence, sentinel information, risk assessment in relation to financial benefits, and changing political and environmental needs.
New Zealand's national strategy for control and eradication of tuberculosis (TB) in its agricultural sector is globally unique. It reflects the need for effective and co-ordinated management of TB in a wildlife maintenance host, the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), in addition to controlling infection in cattle and farmed deer herds.