Mycoplasma bovis – update 1 August 2017

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

MPI continues to build the picture of where the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present and contain it to those farms.

The Ministry is working to assure farmers with properties in the vicinity of the affected Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms that the control measures in place are sufficient to prevent the spread of the disease.

Ministry Director of Response Geoff Gwyn says the main way the disease can spread is through direct contact between cattle, such as nose to nose.

"All the other potential factors such as on equipment, clothing and footwear, effluent and vehicles present a comparatively low risk.

"We encourage farmers to pay attention to what are routine biosecurity measures such as on-farm hygiene, caution around stock movements and fencing stock back from neighbouring fence lines.

"It is natural for people to be worried, especially those directly affected and living close by - but we don't want people to be unnecessarily concerned."

Mr Gwyn says MPI is holding a further community meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 August) to provide an update on the progress in the response. The meeting is at 11am at the Papakaio community hall, just north of Oamaru.

MPI is currently testing samples from the 16 Van Leeuwen farms as well as from neighbouring properties and a small number of additional farms that tracing has indicated may have received stock from the Van Leeuwen group.

These farms will receive visits and stock checks but they are not currently subject to Restricted Place Notices.

"They are being checked on a precautionary basis and at this time there is not a sufficient level of risk to require the imposition of controls," Mr Gwyn says.

To date 25 animals on the first affected farm have been euthanised by the farmer for welfare reasons. A further group of affected animals has been checked by a vet and is fit for transport to slaughter.

"People in the area will start to see stock movements and I understand this is something that is worrying local farmers. I'd like to reassure them that any risk from transporting cattle from the Van Leeuwen farms to processing plants has been assessed as negligible and is being managed. This movement of the stock is being permitted by MPI and vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected after use under MPI supervision."

MPI reinforces the message that Mycoplasma bovis is poses no risk to human health or the safety of food products – meat or dairy.

"There is no reason to hold meat and milk from the affected farms back from processing."

Mr Gwyn says MPI is managing the situation with urgency because of the disease's impacts on farm management, animal welfare and production. Ideally we'd like to contain it and get rid of it and that is our current focus.

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