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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Hydatid disease is now receiving greatly increased attention, both on account of the ill health it causes, and also because of the great economic loss associated with it. The disease is due to a parasite which may occur in dogs as an intestinal tape worm, and during the cycle of its development it exists as a cyst in the organs of human beings or sheep and other animals. Dogs become infected by eating raw offal from an infected sheep, and the cystic stage is caused in man or sheep by ingestion of the tape-worm ova that are passed in the dog's excreta. Eradication of the disease aims to rid the dog of the infection by drug treatment, and to guard against reinfection by preventing the dogs eating raw offal. For very many years the Department of Health issued posters and leaflets setting out the method of eradication of the disease, while supplies of the necessary drug for the effective treatment of their dogs were supplied to dog owners at the time of the animals' relicensing. These measures proved ineffective owing to lack of the necessary stimulus, although by degrees groups of farmers have shown increasing awareness of the problem.

By the Hydatids Act 1959 a National Hydatids Council has been set up and charged with the function of controlling, preventing, and eradicating hydatids. Local authorities, under the general direction of the Council, are empowered to appoint inspectors, and to prepare plans for the prevention and eradication of hydatids in their districts. Inspectors have power to call on owners of dogs to make their dogs available for treatment at specified times and places, and to require them, where necessary, to provide disposal units or treatment units for the disposal or treatment of raw offal. Owners of dogs are required to pay fees for the treatment of their dogs. A great reduction in the hydatid infection of dogs has already been brought about, but some years will pass before complete eradication can be expected. This will show itself by the disappearance of the infection from sheep.

It is estimated that the economic loss to the farming industry through hydatids in sheeps' livers has exceeded £2 million per annum, while in human beings the disease has caused some loss of life and much unnecessary suffering.