Two new farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island

Visitors to a dairy farm pass through a disinfecting foot bath, in response to the outbreak of mycoplasma bovis in South …
Visitors to a dairy farm pass through a disinfecting foot bath, in response to the outbreak of mycoplasma bovis in South Canterbury.

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay.

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All of the infected properties are under restricted place notices under the Biosecurity Act. The legal controls restrict the movement of stock and equipment on and off the farms to contain the disease.

MPI will also trace animals moved from properties under restricted place notices. MPI staff have followed up almost 1000 leads for possible links to infected properties, with 39 under restricted place notices as tests continue.

The confirmed tracing of animal movements takes several days and involves using records from the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, animal status declarations, trucking dockets and interviews with farmers.

This is followed by genome sequencing, which worked out whether the strain of M bovis was the same across all infected farms. This takes several months as it involves growing the bacterium from samples.

M bovis is not a food safety risk for humans and is a disease that affects animal welfare and production. It only affects cattle, including dairy cows and beef cattle, and was first confirmed last July on two farms in South Canterbury.

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