23 Apr 2013

Hydatids rules changes proposed

12:50 pm on 23 April 2013

The Ministry for Primary Industries is proposing changes to controls covering a disease that has not been seen in New Zealand since the 1990s.

Hydatids can infect humans, sheep and other animals, and is contracted from dogs which carry the hydatid tapeworm.

The disease killed more than 140 people in a decade between 1946 - 1956. Many more people had to have surgery to remove hydatids cysts.

After about 50 years of control efforts, including regular dog dosing, the Ministry of Agriculture declared New Zealand to be provisionally free of hydatids in 2002.

But regulations have remained in place aimed at preventing any future outbreaks.

Among other things they require offal to be cooked before it's fed to dogs.

MPI is now proposing changes to remove unnecessary restrictions on the petfood industry and to fine tune a few other regulations.

There will also be a restriction prohibiting any material from imported animals going into pet food. That's to cover the low risk of imported dogs or farm animals reintroducing the disease.

Animal imports-exports standards manager Howard Pharo said the current controls have been there since 2010.

MPI has outlined the reasons for the changes in a discussion document which is available on its website. Submissions close on 17 May.