History and background to the M. bovis eradication programme

Find out how Mycoplasma bovis started and about our eradication programme strategy.

How it began

On 21 July 2017, samples we took from a South Canterbury dairy herd tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis. This bacterium had never previously been found in New Zealand.

All infected properties are linked

None of the infected properties was a surprise – all were expected. So far, they're all linked to the original infected properties. The cases are linked by animal movements and have been caused by close animal contact.

Controls on infected properties

All infected properties have been placed under Restricted Place Notices, under the Biosecurity Act 1993. This restricts the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the properties.

Infected farms can't move stock without permission from MPI. Permits may be given to move animals to slaughter or to other infected properties. This prevents animal welfare issues (like under-feeding). Any permission granted is considered on a case-by-case basis.

Testing and surveillance

Our ongoing activity includes:

  • testing of samples from infected properties
  • tracing of cattle movements on and off the properties
  • on-farm investigations.

If you're a farmer and haven't heard from us

Farmers are contacted where there is a potential risk that the disease is present on their farms. It is a case of no news is good news.

If you don’t hear, it is not of immediate concern to you.

Our mission

We're working with industry partners to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis. We're also aiming to mitigate the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the disease and the eradication programme by:

  • working with affected farmers on culling infected herds
  • helping the cattle sectors to become more resilient to future incursions.

Programme strategy and approach

The strategy is to achieve nationwide eradication. It focuses on:

  • tracing movements from affected properties to new farms
  • identifying additional infected properties through a National Surveillance Programme.

Disease spread is managed by movement controls on properties that are at risk or infected. Movement controls stay in place until either:

  • testing shows that the herd is not infected
  • infected properties are depopulated, then cleaned and disinfected.

We consult with individual farmers on the timing for a depopulation (cull). This is to try to minimise production costs where possible. For example, we might delay culling until the end of the milking season.

Welfare and support

MPI is responsible for the welfare needs of people who are directly affected by the eradication programme. This mainly includes affected farmers, and their families and staff. Their needs are matched with the required level of assistance and support measures to get them through the incursion and into recovery. To ensure that there's support across all affected regions, we're working with:

  • all Rural Support Trusts
  • industry
  • rural community-based National Adverse Events Committees.

The needs of people who are affected less directly are also taken into account. These include:

  • staff
  • neighbouring farmers
  • communities
  • downstream businesses.

These groups are getting information from MPI and industry groups.

Find out more

Resources, guidance, and fact sheets

Advice on Mycoplasma bovis

Information packs for farmers

Industry partner resources

Rural Support Trusts


Beef + Lamb NZ

Expert Q&A on the Science Media Centre

Dairy Cattle Veterinarians Branch of the NZVA

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