Parvovirus is a dreadful disease. The world over it costs pet owners a small fortune in routine vaccination costs. Closely related to panleukopaenia virus in cats, it destroys the cells that line the gut.
in droves, from dehydration brought on by bloody diarrhoea. Survival rates are low, even after expensive
treatment. Panleukopaenia causes a
similar disease in kittens but gets its name because infected cats have no
white blood cells left.
mouth disease is one of the most infectious viruses in the world. It causes blisters in the mouths and on the
teats and feet of cloven-hoofed animals, like pigs, goats and cattle. Young animals may die, but adults usually
recover. It is present in most of Asia
and Africa. And some of South
America. And at the moment, Indonesia is
combating an outbreak.
none of these diseases are in the Cook Islands.
is the catchall name for the way we keep these diseases out and how we find
them and get rid of them if they get in.
The methods used to keep us safe during the COVID pandemic are the same
methods we should implement to keep our
nations have some advantages for biosecurity.
We have no neighbours. For
nations with a land border to another country, differing priorities often ruin
the best efforts to control or eradicate diseases. Distance and the time required to travel to
islands acts as another defense, although less so in the age of air
travel. Six months on a boat used to
stop a lot of problems reaching distant shores.
Islands with its geographical location is so far protected from any disease
incursions. As we saw with Covid,
managing and monitoring access at the border is key. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Biosecurity staff continues to check imports at the ports and airport. Any animals brought into the country require
permission to enter, in the form of import permits.
control beyond the border is great. By
limiting the countries of origin for animals entering into the Cook Islands the
risk is pushed further out, to the borders of those countries. This is like tourists only being able to come
in from New Zealand during May 2022. If
they wanted to visit from elsewhere, they had to spend 2 weeks in New Zealand
first. This is the same for dogs and
cats that enter the Cook Islands, they must be quarantined in NZ first before
coming to our country.
vigilance inside the country is another safeguard. Surveillance of animals and investigations of
unusual events mean diseases can be picked up early, before they become
established. And that is where everyone
can help! Reporting unusual events, such
as a group of chickens passing away, means the cause can be investigated.
component of biosecurity is limiting any exposure to as small an area within a
country as possible. Once again Covid
provides an example, where travel to the Pa Enua was restricted after the first
cases were reported in Rarotonga. That
way the risk was limited, and the efforts of the health staff could be
concentrated where they were most needed.
Te Are Manu
plays a minor role in the process of surveillance and monitoring, but it is a
role we take very seriously.