Second case of contagious cattle disease detected in New Zealand

The second case of a contagious cattle disease, Mycoplasma bovis, has been detected on a dairy farm in New Zealand.

The disease was confirmed on a second dairy farm, that was already under biosecurity controls, in South Canterbury today (July 31) by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

This is the second farm owned by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group where the disease has been detected; the group owns 16 farms.

Mycoplasma bovis is a bacterium that causes illness in cattle; the disease has very little effects on other animals. It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk, the MPI added.

Symptoms of the disease include: udder infection (mastitis); late-term abortion; pneumonia in calves; as well as arthritis in both calves and cows.

Not all animals show symptoms of the disease, but they can pass on the disease to other animals through close contact. This disease is not something that spreads across long distances via wind or water.

Despite the disease being relatively common around the world, this is reportedly the first time it has been detected in New Zealand.

Confirmed cases

In the original case, the disease was confirmed in 14 cows on a dairy farm holding 150 animals. A small number of animals were euthanised for animal welfare reasons, according to the MPI.

The detection of the disease on the second farm was not unexpected, given the close connections between it and the original farm, the MPI added.

Continued sampling and testing for the disease on all farms belonging to the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group, as well as neighbouring farms, is continuing today.

All Van Leeuwen-owned farms are under legal controls restricting the movement of risk goods on and off the properties. Cattle can only move between the other farms in the enterprise – no movement of stock is allowed to farms outside the group, the MPI confirmed.

The MPI is satisfied that these containment measures are “sufficient to control any spread of the disease from the properties involved”.

It is believed the most likely way a farm outside the group would become infected is through the introduction of animals from the group.

Earlier movements of animals from the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms to and from properties outside the group are currently being traced by the MPI.

It is conducting sampling and testing for the disease on these farms as a “matter of priority“.

The MPI is also prioritising surveillance testing on farms neighbouring the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms, to find out whether or not the disease has previously spread in the local area.

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