22 Jul 2020

M bovis active infections limited to four farms after three years

2:51 pm on 22 July 2020

Today marks three years since the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was detected in New Zealand.

dairy cows grazing in a field with New Zealand mountain in the distance

Photo: 123RF

Government figures show to date, 250 properties have been infected by the disease. Most of the farms have now been cleared, with just four classed as actively infected.

On 22 July 2017 Mycoplasma bovis was diagnosed in a South Canterbury dairy herd, after a large number of cattle began displaying symptoms of a novel disease. M bovis can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis, and late-term abortions in cattle.

In May 2018, government and industry bodies made the decision to attempt a world-first eradication the disease.

As part of the biosecurity response, so far nearly 160,000 cattle have been culled and $166 million has been paid in compensation to farmers.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the eradication effort had not been without substantial challenges and the impact on affected farmers could not be under-estimated. But he said allowing the disease to spread would have caused lost productivity in our vital cattle sectors and affected the economy.

"Had we left M bovis to run rampant, I'm not sure our dairy and beef sectors would have been able to weather the economic storm of Covid-19 and the challenges of drought conditions as well as they have," he said.

O'Connor said the next 12 months would be about ensuring that all infected herds had been found.

"This will involve ongoing Bulk Tank Milk Surveillance, nation-wide beef surveillance, and on-farm testing of herds that could possibly have been exposed, to ensure that they are not infected."

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