New properties in NZ continue to test positive for contagious cattle disease

A total of three new properties have tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease, Mycoplasma bovis, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

The positive properties were detected as a result of the MPI’s tracing and testing programme. These latest detections bring the total number of infected farms to six.

These three new properties share links to existing infected properties, which is an entirely expected pattern at this stage of the response, MPI Response Coordinator, David Yard, said.

“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.

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,” he added.

Infected farms

Two of the newly identified properties are Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms and were already subject to restrictive notices under the Biosecurity Act, the MPI confirmed.

The remaining property, located near Rangiora on the country’s South Island, “was a trace farm that had received a small number of calves” from a farm that recently tested positive for the disease.

The MPI is continuing with its policy of not naming the affected properties, if the owners do not want this information in the public domain, Yard said.

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.

He continued to explain that the MPI is also making an effort to contact individual farms where there is a higher risk of the disease being present – whether 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,” he concluded.