Mycoplasma bovis – update 28 July 2017

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

Work continues at pace on a large farming operation in the South Canterbury/Oamaru area to manage the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Currently 1 farm in the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group of farms has confirmed test results that are positive for the disease. Tests have been carried out on stock on other farms in the enterprise.

The Ministry has 16 individual properties within the operation under Restricted Place Notices controlling the movement of stock and other risk goods off the farms.

MPI's Regional Controller Dr Chris Rodwell says the situation is well under control with support from the affected farm owner and farm managers.

"I cannot speak highly enough of the affected farmer and his staff. They're working closely with us during what is a difficult and stressful time for them and I applaud their level of professionalism."

MPI's focus is to identify affected stock and contain the disease. This is being done by isolating the affected farms. The farmer concerned has euthanised a small number of animals voluntarily for animal welfare reasons.

"At this time we are still determining the scale of this situation through on-farm sampling and testing, and tracing of movements of stock on and off the properties.

"This will help inform our future management activities which we are currently working up in partnership with the animal industry bodies. These could include area movement controls, selective culling of some stock or other long term management measures." 

Dr Rodwell says MPI's existing activities are sufficient to contain the disease in the current situation.

"We know other farmers in the area have concerns. This is entirely understandable. That's why we talked to a well-attended meeting of local farmers in Glenavy this morning.

"I'd like to assure people that the disease is a slow-moving one that is transmitted by close contact between animals and not across big distances by wind or water."

Mycoplasma bovis is spread by animal to animal contact and can be present in milk and transmitted to other cows this way.

"We need to be clear, though, that the presence of the bacteria does not affect the safety of dairy products for human consumption. This is not a food safety or human health concern.

"We're working closely with the industry to trace and assure supply chains of the safety of product, including products for export.

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