The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) continues to build the picture of where the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present, to contain and eradicate if possible.
The Ministry is carrying out extensive and thorough testing to establish where the disease is present, to give farmers and the New Zealand public certainty.
Ministry Director of Response Geoff Gwyn says MPI is carrying out surveillance and testing in a planned manner, based on prioritising risks and ensuring rigorous sampling and testing protocols are being followed.
"We are 13 days into the response and we are making very good progress. To give you an idea of the scale, our lab has processed around 1,200 samples to date."
Testing continues on 16 Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) farms. Two of those farms have tested positive to date. There are 62 properties boarding the VLDG farms, and we will be testing all that have cattle on them, Mr Gwyn said.
We have confirmed results for 9 of the bordering farms to date, with all being negative for Mycoplasma bovis.
"This is good news, but further testing on these farms will be required before they can be declared free of the disease and we expect testing to take several months. Sample testing is a complex process which takes time, and it’s important we take that time to get accurate results. The disease doesn't always present symptoms so we need to take 2 sets of samples 1 month apart, and possibly a third depending on those results.
"I realise that farmers are keen to get answers as soon as possible. Our labs teams are working quickly and thoroughly 7 days a week, and we have increased staff numbers to carry out the work. On average, the process takes up to 7 days from taking the sample on-farm, to getting back to the farmer with the results.
"MPI vets, scientists and on the ground staff are working hard on the response and we are getting great support from industry organisations. We remain focused on eradicating this disease from New Zealand," says Mr Gwyn.