17 Mar 2023

Mycoplasma bovis: Mid Canterbury controlled area notice lifted

10:13 am on 17 March 2023

MPI was continuing national background surveillance screening to give confidence M. bovis infection was not widespread. (file image) Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

A controlled area set up in Mid Canterbury to stop the spread of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is being stood down.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) set up the area around the infected ANZCO Five Star feedlot near Ashburton in October - after the disease began to spread in the area.

Eight farms within the controlled area notice including the feedlot have been cleared of stock and have gone through the cleaning and disinfecting process.

Eradication programme director Simon Andrew said MPI would continue to monitor the area closely though the controlled notice was being stood down on Friday.

It was taking a cautious approach so it could act quickly should there be reinfection in the wider national herd, he said.

"To ensure swift action can be taken, the feedlot will remain under a Restricted Place notice for a period while precautionary surveillance activities are undertaken, and we are assured our actions have been successful."

Three farms remain infected with M bovis since it was first found in New Zealand in 2017 - 276 properties have been cleared of the disease.

Andrew acknowledged it had been a stressful time for local farmers but said the controlled area notice had been successful.

"As we have not found M bovis outside of Canterbury in more than two years and this has been one of the last remaining pockets of confirmed M bovis infection, we needed to take a different approach to protect farmers and their cattle," he said.

"National background surveillance screening is continuing to give confidence that M bovis infection is not widespread. These programmes will continue for a further four years, to quickly detect any last remaining infected farms and gather the necessary evidence to declare freedom from M bovis in New Zealand."

For the programme to be successful, it was critical the farming community maintained good on-farm biosecurity standards and kept animal movement records through the National Animal Identification and Tracing system up to date, Andrew said.

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