Risk management and research plan developed for Waikato cattle

23 November 2001

Plans have been developed to isolate and study the calves exposed to the goat mycoplasma disease, Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides (large colony) (MmmLC).

On the recommendation of MAF's Technical Advisory Group (TAG), a group of exposed calves will be isolated and studied at the AgResearch containment facility at Flock House near Palmerston North.

Allen Bryce, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry National Manager Surveillance and Response, said consideration of risk management in the exposed calf group had been the highest priority.

"Movement Restrictions imposed on the original Waikato cattle farms affected by the outbreak have caused space and feed issues. The calves would normally have been sold by now, but have been restricted from doing so by MAF," he said.

Doctor Bryce assures farmers in the Manawatu, Rangitikei and Wanganui region that strict biosecurity measures will be in place during transport from the Waikato and during containment of the calves at Flock House.

"The calves will be transported in contained stock trucks directly from farm to farm. The trucks will be cleaned and disinfected, including effluent tanks, after delivery of the calves," he said.

"We've worked the entire plan and all the containment measures out in consultation with the industry representatives and veterinary experts. Everyone's been working together to find a solution, and we all believe this is the best option."

The AgResearch containment unit at Flock House will become a Restricted Place under the Biosecurity Act for the duration of the time the cattle are on the property. This means no other stock can move onto or off the premises without MAF's permission.

The studies will investigate the prevalence and persistence of infection and antibodies in the exposed groups and will involve collaboration between MAF National Centre for Disease Investigation, Massey University, AgriQuality and AgResearch.

The Dairy Industry and the Meat Industry are assisting MAF Biosecurity Authority with development and implementation of the management plan for cattle.

MmmLC causes polyarthritis in kids, characterised by swelling of several joints, and mastitis in does. Signs in calves have included polyarthritis and conjunctivitis.

Background information on the bacterium is available on: www.maf.govt.nz/mycoplasma-mycoides

For more information contact:

Philippa White

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33