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11.30 am 12 May 2005
Actions resulting from the claimed release of Foot and Mouth Disease on
Waiheke Island continue.
MAF and the Police consider the claim a hoax, but given the significant
implications, have to treat the claim seriously. No sign of disease has been
found, and New Zealand remains foot and mouth disease free.
Operation Waiheke is now very much into the surveillance phase. All stock on
Waiheke Island will be checked every 48 hours until the maximum foot and mouth
incubation period – 14 days – has gone by. Currently, the Exotic Disease
Response Centre has engaged 20 people. The Field Operations Response Team has
engaged 31 people in Auckland and on Waiheke Island. About 60 staff at MAF and
NZFSA in Wellington are involved in varying capacities. The cost of the
operation so far is unknown. There is also a significant opportunity cost for
the agencies involved.
No high risk movements and very few low risk movements off Waiheke of
susceptible livestock, livestock products and equipment have been identified.
There are only two transport operators that move stock from the island, and MAF
is confident there are no unknown high risk movements. MAF has still been unable
to contact the owners of nine of the 41 property owners on Waiheke. These owners
are asked to contact MAF on 0800 80 99 66 urgently.
Movement controls remain in place, including signage at checkpoints. There is
a DoC recreation reserve island close to Waiheke (Motuihe Island) that some have
thought perhaps at risk from virus plumes or visits since it has sheep on it.
This island is not considered a risk. DoC has closed the Waiheke Historic
Reserve 'Stony Batter'.
MAF investigates about 20 cases of suspected foot and mouth disease each
year. An exotic disease response is not activated until a case of foot and mouth
has been identified. MAF response is different in this case because of the
direct threat made.
Farmers outside the controlled area who have concerns about the health of
their livestock should contact their vet. Farmers on Waiheke Island should call
0800 80 99 66.
Advertisements providing public information and specific information for
farmers on Foot and Mouth Disease have been placed in all major newspapers from