Sup­port needed for TB-af­fected farmer

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

Stu­art Hus­band knows how dev­as­tat­ing a out­break of bovine tu­ber­cu­lo­sis can be for a dairy farmer.

The Mor­rinsville farmer and Waikato re­gional coun­cil­lor had one-third of his herd test pos­i­tive for the in­fec­tious dis­ease in 2013. At the time, it put a huge amount of stress on him­self.

That is why it was crit­i­cal the farmer af­fected by this lat­est case of TB re­ceived good ad­vice and was sup­ported to help them through what he said was a dif­fi­cult time.

‘‘The big thing to re­alise is that it’s not the end of the world, you will come out the other end of it, but make the most of the net­work of peo­ple out there will­ing to help.’’

The dis­ease has been found in a small herd of 200 dairy cows and 120 other cat­tle such as calves and re­place­ment an­i­mals on a Mata­mata farm after a cull cow was iden­ti­fied as hav­ing symp­toms of TB late last year at a meat pro­ces­sor.

OSPRI, the or­gan­i­sa­tion which man­aged a pro­gramme for man­age­ment and erad­i­ca­tion of bovine TB, un­der­took a test­ing pro­gramme of dairy cat­tle from the herd along with the slaugh­ter of a small num­ber of calves.

The in­fected an­i­mal was found at rou­tine post-mortem in­spec­tion at a slaugh­ter fa­cil­ity, OSPRI na­tional dis­ease man­ager Kevin Crews said.

The in­fec­tion was con­firmed with lab­o­ra­tory cul­tur­ing of My­cobac­terium bo­vis bac­te­ria. A fol­low-up TB test­ing of the herd con­tin­ued to be con­ducted on the farm.

So far, just un­der 10 per cent of the cat­tle have been con­firmed as TB in­fected.

Crews said OSPRI were work­ing through op­tions with the farmer and herd owner while test­ing and treat­ment of the herd were be­ing com­pleted.

Look­ing back, Hus­band said one of the mis­takes he made was his at­tempt to keep the is­sue quiet.

‘‘It re­ally was the un­do­ing of me. You have to talk and get good, real sup­port and that’s prob­a­bly what I didn’t do enough of.’’

The farmer should also stay away from the stock truck if there were pos­i­tive-tested cat­tle that had to leave the farm for slaugh­ter, he said.

‘‘I loaded my own cat­tle onto the truck when they had to go and I think that was dis­as­trous as you’re load­ing your own good cows on a truck to get killed. It’s re­ally tax­ing.’’

He said the af­fected farmer should also get them­selves and any em­ploy­ees tested for TB. The pos­i­tive test would likely af­fect the value of the farmer’s herd and it was ex­tremely im­por­tant that the farm owner be­came com­pletely in­formed about what TB was and sup­ported the herd owner.

‘‘The re­ally bad thing out of this equa­tion would be if the farm owner said, ‘see you later,’.’’

Neigh­bour­ing farm­ers also had to get be­hind the af­fected farmer, Hus­band said.

‘‘Hav­ing TB was not lep­rosy and its very, very un­likely to be con­tracted through a fence. What­ever you do, don’t os­tracise this per­son.’’

It is sus­pected the out­break came from a cow brought onto the farm rather than from a pos­sum be­cause it was a vec­tor-free area and had no re­cent his­tory of TB in­fec­tion.

A pos­i­tive TB test was an emo­tional and fi­nan­cial blow to the farmer, Waikato TB free Com­mit­tee chair­man Chris Irons said.

‘‘It’s pretty raw at the mo­ment from all ac­counts. It’s a shock...and it’s one of those things you wouldn’t wish on your worst en­emy.’’

Farmer Stu­art Hus­band says find­ing bovine tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in a herd is dev­as­tat­ing.

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