Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) Surveillance
New Zealand is free from the class of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs. These diseases include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer. As a country with an economy reliant on its large livestock industry, New Zealand must protect its TSE-free status to facilitate trade.
MPI runs a comprehensive TSE detection and surveillance programme to prevent the entry and spread of TSE agents. This programme supports New Zealand’s claim that its animal products are free of BSE, scrapie and CWD, which is important to continue accessing international markets.
The surveillance programme is targeted at susceptible livestock: cattle, sheep, goats and deer showing signs of neurological disease. The brains of these animals are submitted by veterinarians to laboratories where they are screened for endemic diseases and TSEs. Currently, MPI is investigating the collection and testing of lymphoid tissues from sheep and goats as an alternative method. In addition, contingency plans have been developed for dealing with any suspect cases in livestock, to reduce the time to detection and intervention.
Payments are made to both vets and farmers for the submission of tissue for sampling.
Information on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
- Description of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies
- Is BSE transmitted via semen and embryos? The Evidence to date (18 KB)
- BSE in sheep
- Safe to Eat
- What would be the implications of a case of BSE for Dairy Exports?
Sciatic Palsy in Dairy Cows – an emerging neurological condition suggestive of BSE?
Massey University and the Ministry for Primary Industries are seeking information on cases of a condition affecting adult dairy cows. During winter 2011 and 2012 MPI received a limited number of reports of a potentially new condition affecting adult dairy cows. Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) have been ruled out in each case.
Cows present with progressive hind-limb weakness, ataxia(uncoordinated muscle movements), shortened gait and sinking of the hocks. Clinical signs appear on both sides, although may be less marked on one side. Eventually cows become unable to rise. Cows remain bright, alert and responsive and appear healthy and have a good appetite. Known cases have occurred in two different areas of the upper North Island.
A video of a case sent by a Taranaki veterinarian is provided, showing an example of the condition we seek more information on. Please note the cows were humanely euthanized due to poor prognosis.
We would like to know if further cases of this syndrome have been seen throughout New Zealand. It is likely this is a rare condition so it may take time to investigate it fully. If you have seen cattle with similar presenting signs please contact Will Tulley (firstname.lastname@example.org). If there are sufficient reports we will hope to identify risk factors. We will contact you with a questionnaire and if possible would also like to undertake invetigations of any available clinical cases. All information on similar cases will be gratefully received.
Ruminant Feeding Regulations
New Zealand's Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Status
- Absence of Specified Animal Diseases from New Zealand
- New Zealand's case to the OIE to be recognised as a country free from BSE (411 KB)
- New Zealand's case to the European Union to be recognised as a country free from BSE (1300 KB)
- The European Unions assessment of New Zealand's BSE status (165 KB)
New Zealand received a category 1 rating for its BSE status. This rating represents the lowest possible likelihood of having BSE.
- MPI's official statement of freedom from BSE (147 KB)
- MPI's official statement of freedom from Scrapie (175 KB)
- MPI's official statement of freedom from chronic wasting disease (146 KB)
The official statements are reviewed on a monthly basis to confirm they are still accurate, and are updated at that time. Should you need an original copy of this document please contact TSESurveillance@mpi.govt.nz
Page last updated: 3 May 2013