OIE recognises New Zealand BSE risk as negligible

1 June 2007

New Zealand has been granted negligible BSE risk disease status at the 75th General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), held in Paris last week.

A new classification criteria for official sanitary status recognition on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was adopted in 2006. New Zealand joins Australia, Argentina, Uruguay and Singapore in the most favourable category. The United States, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Switzerland and Taipei China have BSE-controlled risk status, which places restrictions on trading bovine risk products; that negligible risk status countries are not required to meet.

Biosecurity New Zealand Assistant Director General, Barry O’Neil, welcomed the OIE status.

“This confirms what we have known for a long time - New Zealand is BSE-free. The negligible risk recognition gives New Zealand a status that will assist exporters.”

BSE, which occurs in adult cattle, is one of a group of brain-wasting diseases (known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or TSEs). It was first identified in Britain in 1986. The disease has an incubation period of 3-5 years. Brain cells develop holes resulting in the loss of control of limbs, trembling, wide-eyed staring, swaying of the head, and erratic behaviour, including charging, hence the term 'mad cow disease'.

Further information on the 75th Annual General Session of the OIE is available at www.oie.int. Key issues covered by the meeting include:

  • a resolution to enable Taiwan and China to actively participate in the OIE;
  • reference laboratory and collaborating centre approvals;
  • the use of epidemiological models for the management of animal diseases;
  • new international guidelines to better implement surveillance for animal diseases and zoonoses; and
  • member countries support for the new Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.

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Helen Keyes
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Phone: 04 894 0161 or 029 894 0161

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