The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) strongly suspects a third South Island property is positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
The farm is in the Oamaru area and has a direct connection with one of the infected Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms. It had received some animals from the VLDG farm before Mycoplasma bovis was found in New Zealand. Blood test results from the property show some animals have been infected with the disease.
MPI's Director, Response, Geoff Gwyn says as a result, the property is now under a Restricted Place Notice, controlling the movement of animals and other risk materials off the farm.
"There is no need to name the farm concerned. The farmer has been in regular contact with us and has voluntarily kept stock and risk goods on the farm for more than 3 weeks while our testing has taken place.
"No animals have left the property since 20 July. However it is understood that before this, some animals were moved to a number of other farms. MPI is contacting those properties and is testing animals with urgency."
Mr Gwyn says that at this time, there is no clear evidence that disease is on these other properties. MPI is considering whether the farms will need to have specific controls placed on the movement of risk goods.
"In the meantime, we're asking the farmers concerned to follow good on-farm hygiene measures and to ensure their NAIT records are kept up to date in case there is a need to trace animals in future."
Mr Gwyn says the new development is not a sign the disease is running rampant in New Zealand but is evidence of the extensive surveillance and testing programme working.
"Part of our response has been identifying and investigating animals that have moved from affected properties earlier this year. Buying, selling and moving stock is a common practice in farming and it was always possible further infected properties would be found.
"This is not a game changer for us. Along with the animal industry bodies, we remain committed to continuing the biosecurity response, finding any infected properties, controlling the disease and, if possible, eradicating it from the country.
"The disease is being well contained on the known properties and we are confident our control measures are sufficient to contain it there. Our surveillance programme continues to investigate whether the disease had been spreading around the country before it was discovered in South Canterbury."
MPI has a range of checks and testing underway to get a picture of what's out there. As well as the checks on the Van Leeuwen farms, neighbours and trace properties, the Ministry is testing samples supplied through regional veterinary laboratories and through a survey run by Massey University, and working with dairy companies to look at the milk from animals in the Waitaki and Waimate districts.
MPI encourages all farmers and rural contractors to help protect their farms and businesses by following standard on-farm hygiene best practice. Full information is on our website link below.