The Ministry for Primary Industries' tracing and testing programme has identified 3 new properties positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
"All 3 properties have links to existing infected properties, and this is an entirely expected pattern at this stage of the response," MPI Response Coordinator David Yard says.
These latest detections bring the total number of infected farms to 6.
"We fully expect to find more infected properties as we continue our tracing and testing programme. These detections are evidence of the programme working, not of unexpected disease spread." Mr Yard says.
"All detections to date have links to the original infected properties via animal movements and have been caused by close animal contact. What is encouraging is that, despite intensive testing, no adjacent properties have as yet been identified as infected.
"We have no evidence of any means of disease spread other than close animal contact, at this stage. This includes the disease having jumped fences – which our scientists and vets tell us is highly unlikely to occur."
Two of the newly identified properties are Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms and were already under Restricted Place notices under the Biosecurity Act
The third property was a trace farm that had received a small number of calves from the third infected farm confirmed last week. The property is a lifestyle block near Rangiora.
Mr Yard said MPI is continuing with its policy of not naming the affected properties if the owners did not want this.
"MPI is prevented from doing otherwise by the Privacy Act. However, we do understand community concern about the disease and we are strongly encouraging farmers under controls or investigation to talk to their neighbours, customers and suppliers."
Mr Yard says MPI is also continuing to contact individual farms where there is higher risk of the disease being present – that is because they are adjacent to infected properties or are connected through animal movements.
"If farmers have not been contacted by us, then it means they are not in these groups and are at considerably less risk of the disease spreading to them. It's a case of 'no news is good news' If you don't hear from us, it means it's not of immediate concern for you.
"In the meantime, we encourage all farmers and rural contractors to help protect their farms and businesses by following standard on-farm hygiene best practice."
Full information on hygiene measures and other resources are available on the MPI website.