Global epidemiology consulting company Ausvet and New Zealand’s Working Formula have been appointed to do research to help accelerate eradication.
They specialise in finding disease patterns in populations that will enable the M bovis programme to more effectively prioritise follow-up casing of high-risk properties.
“This knowledge will help us understand the risk of spread from different properties at different times,” the Primary Industries Ministry’s chief science adviser and M bovis Strategic Science Advisory Group chairman Dr John Roche said.
Farms potentially infected with M bovis are prioritised for follow-up using several criteria.
“Ausvet and WF will investigate if there is anything we can do to improve the current criteria to more effectively prioritise farms at high risk of infection for urgent follow-up.
“It’s more critical to apply movement controls on high-risk farms than other properties.
“If these farms can be identified and actioned more quickly it will slow the spread of the disease and speed up eradication.”
It will be a short-term research project based on analysis of existing data.
Ausvet has also been contracted to review the M bovis surveillance strategy.
“This will identify any areas for development and improvement focused on how to improve our confidence that M bovis is absent from NZ in the future,” Roche said.
The company will also train epidemiologists so they can analyse the strategy as needed.
Roche said the ongoing background surveillance of the different cattle sectors is a vital component of NZ’s eradication effort.
There will be ongoing surveillance for at least seven years following identification of the last known infected property.
“An effective surveillance programme is what will provide assurance that M bovis is absent from NZ,” Roche said.