A North Otago vet has returned from Nepal with a message for
every Kiwi about foot-and-mouth disease. Sally Brooker
Vetlife Oamaru principal Ivan Holloway describes his journey
to study foot-and-mouth disease in Nepal as ''the trip of a
Mr Holloway was one of 12 New Zealanders selected to go to
Nepal, where the highly-contagious foot-and-mouth virus
affects cloven-hoofed animals.
If it got into New Zealand, it would stop all meat and dairy
exports. The Ministry for Primary Industries estimated our
gross domestic product would lose $13.8 billion a year.
The European Commission for Foot-and-Mouth Disease, part of
the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation, worked
with the ministry to assemble the New Zealand team that was
based in Kathmandu from June 2 to 6.
The vets were from Northland, Taranaki, Poverty Bay,
Canterbury and Otago, accompanied by DairyNZ representatives
from Hawkes Bay and Southland, ministry vets and a ministry
senior adviser. said the trip was ''raising awareness,
protecting New Zealand for the future'', because we must
never become complacent.''
Any incursion would cripple us,'' Mr Holloway said.
He urged everyone who went overseas to be ''open and honest''
in filling out biosecurity forms when they returned. Because
foot-and-mouth was rife worldwide and could live for 14 days
in dry faeces, it could easily be brought in on footwear.''
The outcomes would be tragic.''
Be prepared to be expect to be inconvenienced a little for
the greater good of the country.''
Seeing foot-and-mouth was ''never scary - it was exciting'',
Mr Holloway said.''
As a vet, to see such a feared disease ... it was just the
But I wouldn't want to see it in New Zealand. To witness it
first hand was just exciting and fascinating, tempered with
sympathy for the farmers and the animals.''
Lesions he saw and treated on cattle, goat and water buffalo
gums, tongues and feet must have caused the animals a great
deal of pain, he said.
The New Zealanders visited small family farms about 65km east
of Kathmandu. Each would have a handful of livestock under
the house, surrounded by plantings of corn or rice.
Foot-and-mouth would halve their milk production and
drastically reduce animal growth.
There was often common grazing land in rural villages and
several farms could be built adjoining, so foot-and-mouth
spread easily, Mr Holloway said. The notion of isolating
infected stock and disinfecting areas was difficult to get
But with the presence of ''so many serious diseases that kill
animals'', the Nepalese were not too alarmed by
The New Zealanders reported to the Nepalese authorities, who
have since said they were developing a plan to curb the
''We felt we did add some value in our time there,'' Mr
The study group now knew how to detect foot-and-mouth and
trace its development between animals and farms. By working
out where it came from and where it had gone, control
measures could be put in place.
Another group was expected to be sent away next year.
Meanwhile, Mr Holloway and his colleagues would spread their
knowledge back here.
''I felt extremely privileged and humbled to be able to go on
the training trip, as did all the practitioners,'' he said.
''It strengthens the ability for New Zealand to meet any
exotic incursion head-on.
''We must not see it in this country.''