About bovine tuberculosis

About bovine tuberculosis

What is bovine TB? How is it spread? What are the health risks? How does it affect the economy? This section contains everything you need to know about how bovine TB can affect you, your community and New Zealand's economy.


Bovine TB has probably been in New Zealand as long as cattle and deer. But it wasn't until the disease got into the possum population that TB became a serious threat to the economy.

Mycobacterium bovis can be transmitted to humans via infected milk, although it can also spread via aerosol droplets.

Thanks to TB testing programmes, advanced bovine TB is now uncommon in farmed animals in New Zealand. Use this guide for identifying TB in farmed and wild animals.

Bovine TB is a global problem, but many developed countries have been able to reduce or limit the incidence of the disease by testing and culling stock. However, in large parts of the developed world the disease is still a major threat to human and animal health.

Left unchecked, bovine TB could seriously damage New Zealand's reputation for top-quality meat and dairy products and jeopardize access to high-value export markets that make up 50% of New Zealand's export earnings.

Bovine TB can have devastating emotional and financial impacts on individual farmers and the rural communities in which they live.

Copyright [2012] by OSPRI