How is Ireland connected to the eradication plan of a cattle disease in NZ?

It was confirmed recently that about 126,000 cattle will be culled in New Zealand in an effort to eradicate the contagious cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirmed that most of the eradication work will be carried out in one or two years.

The decision to order the widespread cull was taken to protect the national herd of dairy and beef cattle and to give farmers certainty, the MPI said.

Also Read: Contagious disease in NZ leads to planned cull of over 125,000 cattle

But what connection could Ireland possibly have to the eradication plan in New Zealand?

The country’s Minister for Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, has confirmed that the fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field headquarters and the appointment of a science advisor.

“The 50 new incident control point staff are on top of the 250 at the MPI already undertaking this work.

“MPI’s compensation team was also recently increased from 22 to 30 and is expected to double in size as the response progresses. MPI has also opened a new field HQ in Cambridge.

Newly-appointed science adviser Dr. John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis.

“Dr. Roche has a PhD in ruminant nutrition from the National University of Ireland and has most recently worked as a principal scientist at DairyNZ and adjunct professor in Animal Science at Lincoln University,” the minister said.

Providing strategic science advice across the MPI, Dr. Roche’s first task will be to head up a new Mycoplasma bovis Science Strategic Advisory Group, he added.

There has been little international investment in science around this disease – so the group will look into testing developments to detect Mycoplasma bovis in individual cows, grow understanding of the disease and identify opportunities to support the New Zealand eradication operation.

“With his background in Ireland, where Mycoplasma bovis is widespread, Dr. Roche will be ideally placed to lead this work,” Minister O’Connor concluded.

New detections

Meanwhile, it was confirmed today that yet another farm has tested positive for the disease.

The farm concerned is a sheep and beef farm; the property is now under legal controls restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods off the farm, a statement from the MPI explained.

“As part of the Government and sector group programme to eradicate the disease, all cattle on the farm will ultimately be culled – in agreement with the farmer concerned around timing.

“This new property brings the total number of infected properties nationwide to 36. Biosecurity New Zealand expects to find further infected properties as the extensive tracing of animal movements continues,” it said.

Since the disease was first detected, a total of 10 farms that had previously been defined as ‘active’ infected properties have been “depopulated, cleaned and had their restrictions lifted”.