Encouraging results as bulk milk testing nears final stage

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Results from the current nationwide bulk milk testing for Mycoplasma bovis are encouraging with around three quarters of testing having been completed, Ministry for Primary Industries’ Mycoplasma bovis director Geoff Gwyn says.

“So far, only 3 farms have been confirmed with Mycoplasma bovis through the milk testing,” he says.

“All 3 properties were already part of our tracing programme and they all have previously known links to the disease. One of these properties was under surveillance and the other 2 were about to go under surveillance.”

Under the testing programme, milk samples from every New Zealand dairy farm are being taken shortly after calving, when cows are most likely to be shedding the bacterium.

For each farm, the first sample was collected around 4 weeks from the start of milk supply. Samples are then collected every 2 weeks, with a total of 6 samples from each farm.

To date, more than 51,000 of the approximately 70,000 tests have been completed.

Nearly all farms have had 3 rounds of testing and around 10,000 farms have had 4 rounds. About 1,500 farms have completed all 6 rounds.

“The fact that we have confirmed Mycoplasma bovis on only 3 farms, and that all 3 of them were already on our radar, is encouraging,” Mr Gwyn says.

“It reinforces our belief that we are dealing with a single strain of Mycoplasma bovis, based on the available scientific evidence and our own work in the field.

“While this remains an extremely difficult time for affected farmers, and we still have a lot of work to do, I’m confident we are on the right path in terms of tracking down the disease and eradicating it from New Zealand,” Mr Gwyn says.

Full results from the bulk milk testing are expected to be delivered to the majority of farmers in the North and South islands in early December.

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