TheDairySite.com - news, features, articles and disease information for the dairy industry

News

Cattle Disease Mycoplasma Spreads to North Island for First Time

12 December 2017

NEW ZEALAND - For the first time the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been detected in the North Island, on a property in the Hastings district.

Stuff.co.nz reports that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced on Tuesday that the Hastings farm was one of four new properties positive for the bacterial disease, all traced back to the van Leeuwen group of farms in South Canterbury.

The other three are in the Winton, Southland district, while the disease is "strongly" suspected on an Ashburton farm.

This brings to 13 the total number of farms infected since the disease was discovered for the first time in New Zealand in July. It is widespread in dairying countries worldwide, and is not a risk to human health.

So far 3500 cattle have been slaughtered in order to stop the spread of the disease.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said he was "deeply disappointed" by the detection.

"We are still unable to identify the source of the disease and that concerns me."

He said he would meet with officials to discuss the next steps in dealing with the outbreak.

MPI's director of response Geoff Gwyn said the Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through its tracing programme and the Winton property through the industry milk testing programme.

All of the movements were before 21 July, when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI by rich listers Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen.

The Hastings and Winton properties have been put into lockdown under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act.

Mr Gwyn said while disappointing, the new developments were not unexpected because buying and selling stock was a common practice.

"We're still analysing what this means for the wider response. We're dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Our investigators are building a picture of stock movements onto and off these farms so we will not be making hasty decisions on next steps.

"A key part of our response has been identifying and investigating animals that have moved to or from affected properties before Mycoplasma bovis was first detected. This tracing is complex detective work which takes time," Mr Gwyn said.

MPI had not discovered the disease on the new farms until now because it was "a tricky thing to find and often hides within an animal, lying dormant and not revealing itself for weeks or months".

The Hastings case was confirmed by an organ tissue test from animals at slaughter.

MPI refused to name the farmers of the affected properties, as it has all along - unless the owners wanted to be named. It had completed over 55,000 tests and investigators had followed up 250 properties.

A meeting will be held in Hastings on the evening of 20 December, with a time and venue to be confirmed.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said it was now up to farmers to be their own biosecurity officers.

"Establishing a 1.5m buffer along fence lines with neighbouring properties should be standard practice. Where practical that could be a vegetation buffer, which would deliver biosecurity and biodiversity benefits.

"Close and repeated contact with an infected animal is still regarded as the most likely way Mycoplasma bovis is spread. As one farmer said at a recent meeting, 'losing some grazing is a small cost compared to losing your herd'," Ms Milne said.

She urged farmers to make sure vets and AI technicians cleaned their equipment before they arrived and when they left.

They should make sure their tagging records were up to date and where practical, limit cattle movements on farms.

"Farmers with leased/loaned terminal bulls may need to think about sending them straight to slaughter. This may well mean a change in practice, but it's well worth thinking about and discussing with the bulls' owner," Ms Milne said.

TheCattleSite News Desk



Our Sponsors

Partners


Seasonal Picks

British Field Crops 2nd edition