Surveillance for veterinary professionals

Veterinarians, vet technicians, and other animal professionals play a key role in looking out for emerging and exotic pests and diseases. Find out how veterinary professionals can contribute to New Zealand's animal health surveillance.

Help us identify new pests and diseases

The Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline is a critical tool for helping us detect pests and diseases that haven't been found in New Zealand before. We rely on the vigilance of animal health professionals to let us know when they see something unusual.

Exotic pest and disease hotline – 0800 80 99 66

The hotline is operational 24/7 and free of charge. All New Zealanders have a legal obligation to contact the hotline as soon as possible when they suspect any pest or disease not usually seen in New Zealand.

When you should call the hotline

We want to know about any suspected pests or diseases that may be new to New Zealand in any animal species, including wildlife.

When other causes cannot be identified, a new, emerging, or exotic disease in animals may be indicated by:

  • an unusual number of sick or lame animals
  • animals with unusual signs
  • sick animals not responding to standard treatment
  • an unexpected drop in production
  • unexpectedly poor reproductive performance.

We rely on animal health professionals' expertise in their field or geographical area. If something appears unusual to you, please call us to talk with a specialist.

Biosecurity New Zealand also maintains a list of Notifiable Organisms that are of particular concern to New Zealand.

Notifiable organism register [PDF, 423 KB]

What happens when you phone the hotline?

Your call will first be answered by one of our call centre staff. They will ask for your contact details and a simple description of your case. No technical details are required at this stage. The information you give will ensure your case is relayed to the right team (the hotline is also used for plant and aquatic surveillance). 

A disease investigation veterinarian will then phone you back to discuss your notification with you and decide whether it needs to be investigated. Investigations usually involve samples being submitted to MPI's Animal Health Laboratory. In some cases, one of our initial investigation veterinarians will visit the affected site. If a high-risk disease is suspected, such as a vesicular disease, you will be asked to remain on the property.

In all cases, the investigator will work with you to help you reach a diagnosis, even once an exotic disease is ruled out.

Read about an investigation involving a visit from an initial investigation veterinarian [PDF, 3.5 MB]

TSE surveillance

Biosecurity New Zealand conducts surveillance for diseases in the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) group – bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), scrapie, and chronic wasting disease. This provides confidence for livestock industries, the public, and our international trading partners that our animals are free from these diseases.

Financial incentives are provided to vets and farmers who contribute samples to the surveillance programme.

Find out how to take part in TSE surveillance

TSE surveillance fact sheet: Help protect New Zealand [PDF, 221 KB]

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) response plans

Animal health surveillance (commercial veterinary laboratories)

Biosecurity New Zealand monitors anonymised data from all commercial veterinary laboratories to look for emerging or exotic diseases, or changing trends in endemic diseases in our animal populations.

You help us by filling in details on your laboratory submission forms, including:

  • case history
  • presenting signs
  • numbers affected
  • numbers at risk (number of animals in the affected mob/farm)
  • numbers dead.

Find out more

Sign up to "Surveillance" biosecurity magazine – our quarterly magazine that reports on MPI's biosecurity surveillance activities across land and aquatic environments, including recent investigations.

Surveillance programmes for pests and diseases

Signs of foot-and-mouth disease: information for vets

African swine fever disease prevention

Dropped hock syndrome

Who to contact

If you have questions about surveillance for veterinary professionals, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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