Spread of Mycoplasma bovis may be greater than ministry previously expected

The tracking of Mycoplasma bovis shows that more farms than previously expected are likely to be affected by the cattle disease, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor declared today.

His ministry had always expected to find more properties, but he has now been advised the numbers will likely exceed their earlier modelling.

This modelling work is continuing

“… and we will have a clearer picture in the next couple of weeks,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries was continuing an intense programme of work with farming sector groups about the next best steps in the response – including containment and phased eradication, he said.

“Testing to date shows all infected properties are connected in some way.

“The tracing of Mycoplasma bovis is made harder by the poor use of the national animal tracing system (NAIT).

“We could have tracked this more quickly if the system had been used properly. The previous Government’s inaction, lack of enforcement and promotion of NAIT has created major issues for hunting down Mycoplasma bovis.

“We will make changes to the NAIT system.

“A cull of 22,000 cows is currently under way, with nearly half, 11,000 animals, destroyed.

“That cull is necessary to reduce the disease’s spread through the national herd. I know farmers whose properties are under control restrictions face a difficult time. I’m working hard to ensure the Government and sector make the best possible decision with the best possible information regarding Mycoplasma bovis. I expect that decision will come in the next few weeks.

Mr O’Connor advised farmers to ensure any compensation claims they make related to Mycoplasma bovis are accurate, to help facilitate the process.

The ministry and Dairy NZ have boosted the numbers of people working directly with farmers to assist in that process.

AT the end of the day yesterday, 38 farms were active infected places and another 40 were under Restricted Place Notice (that is, they are considered highly likely to become infected).

Nearly 1700 properties are of interest because of risk events such as animal movements, the supply of milk for animal feed or because they are adjacent to infected properties.

Source: Minister of Agriculture

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