Cat­tle dis­ease con­firmed on sus­pect farm

The Press - - News - GER­ARD HUTCHING

The cat­tle dis­ease My­coplasma bo­vis has now been con­firmed on a Wai­mate farm that last week was ‘‘un­der sus­pi­cion’’.

This brings to eight the num­ber of prop­er­ties where the dis­ease has def­i­nitely been de­tected.

An­other one that was sus­pected last week of har­bour­ing it is await­ing de­fin­i­tive test re­sults, and yet an­other in the Wai­mate district was an­nounced yes­ter­day as in doubt and be­ing tested.

Two of the three new farms bor­der prop­er­ties owned by Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen, where the dis­ease was first con­firmed in midJuly, the first time it had been dis­cov­ered in New Zealand al­though it is wide­spread glob­ally.

The news has res­ur­rected ques­tions about where the dis­ease may have come from, and re­newed calls for New Zealand to in­tro­duce an im­port health stan­dard for se­men.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers dairy group chair­man Chris Lewis said dairy lead­ers at the re­cent In­ter­na­tional Dairy Fed­er­a­tion meet­ing in Europe had told him the most likely means of trans­mis­sion was se­men.

‘‘The se­men is treated with an­tibi­otics but there is re­search to show these kill lots of dis­eases but not My­coplasma.’’

A Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) spokes­woman said it had re­cently re­viewed and re­vised its risk anal­y­sis on se­men and it would be re­leased ‘‘shortly’’.

‘‘In short, it con­cludes that the risk of My­coplasma bo­vis be­ing trans­mit­ted through se­men is un­changed and re­mains very low,’’ she said.

Asked if MPI had seen the sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to back up the as­ser­tion an­tibi­otic treat­ment was ef­fec­tive for M bo­vis-in­fected se­men, she replied that the an­swer would be in the re­view.

Be­sides the risk anal­y­sis, MPI was also in­ves­ti­gat­ing how the dis­ease got on to the van Leeuwen farms, but un­til then no-one could state cat­e­gor­i­cally whether the se­men sup­plied to the van Leeuwens was neg­a­tive for M bo­vis.

World Wide Sires gen­eral man­ager Hank Lina said his com­pany be­lieved New Zealand needed its own im­port health stan­dard.

At present peo­ple had to take the ge­net­ics com­pa­nies at their word.

‘‘In New Zealand we don’t have any com­mer­cial labs set up. There’s one ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion com­pany that says we’ve done our own test­ing and an­other that says we can’t test and an­other says I can get my bulls tested over­seas.’’

LIC said it had con­firmed its ar­ti­fi­cial breed­ing bulls were free from the dis­ease.

The co-op an­nounced in Septem­ber it would test for the dis­ease to pro­vide its farm­ers with greater peace of mind through the dairy mat­ing sea­son.

‘‘We’ve now com­pleted the test­ing and I am pleased to con­firm that all LIC bulls have re­ceived neg­a­tive test re­sults with no sign of My­coplasma bo­vis,’’ chief sci­en­tist Richard Spel­man said.

Lina said New Zealand’s rep­u­ta­tion was more im­por­tant than the com­mer­cial driv­ers of the ge­net­ics com­pa­nies.

‘‘World Wide Sires NZ is putting its hand up to work with the Gov­ern­ment, MPI, DairyNZ and other AB com­pa­nies to work to­gether to agree and im­ple­ment a set of stan­dards which will pro­vide the re­as­sur­ance we all need go­ing for­ward.’’

MPI’s in­ci­dent con­troller David Yard said they still had to work out the source of in­fec­tion at the con­firmed in­fected prop­erty and to build a pic­ture of an­i­mal move­ments be­tween all three farms and pos­si­ble other farms.

M bo­vis is spread through close con­tact be­tween an­i­mals and through the di­rect move­ment of cat­tle be­tween prop­er­ties.

MPI’s re­sponse team was now plan­ning for how the new in­fected place would be man­aged and con­tin­u­ing test­ing of sam­ples from the two other prop­er­ties.

PHOTO: IAIN MCGRE­GOR/STUFF

Mother wed­dell seals typ­i­cally stay with their pups con­stantly for the first week or so and then en­cour­age them into the wa­ter.

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