No My­coplasma bo­vis in Waikato

The Southland Times - - WEATHER - GERALD PIDDOCK

A Cam­bridge dairy farmer has hit back at ‘‘far-fetched’’ ru­mours his farm busi­ness has My­coplasma bo­vis.

The in­fec­tious bac­te­rial dis­ease was found for the first time in New Zealand last July and has since been mostly con­tained to the South Is­land with 30 prop­er­ties con­firmed to have tested pos­i­tive.

Henk Smit is adamant his farm is not one of them. ‘‘I think peo­ple have got bor­ing lives and they like to make up sto­ries,’’ he said.

Smit’s fam­ily owns three farms and bought cows from a South Is­land farm two years ago that was linked with a farm that had tested pos­i­tive, but so far tests had showed his herd had tested neg­a­tive for the dis­ease. ‘‘We’re cur­rently go­ing through three sets of blood test­ing with the cows and so far ev­ery­thing has come back neg­a­tive. I def­i­nitely don’t have My­coplasma bo­vis as far as I know.’’ His farm had been put un­der a no­tice of di­rec­tion by of­fi­cials from the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries. The no­tice is placed when stock move­ments are con­sid­ered to pose a risk of spread­ing M bo­vis. The bac­te­rial dis­ease caused a range of se­ri­ous con­di­tions in­clud­ing mas­ti­tis pneu­mo­nia, arthri­tis and late-term abor­tions. It does not in­fect hu­mans and presents no food safety risk. The 30 in­fected prop­er­ties are in Can­ter­bury, Hawkes’ Bay, Mid Can­ter­bury, South Can­ter­bury/North Otago, and South­land.

Smit said the no­tice had not caused too much of a dis­rup­tion for his farm busi­ness, apart from hav­ing to keep his younger stock on the farm for longer in­stead of tak­ing them to his runoff block. ‘‘Out of cour­tesy to­wards the neigh­bours of the runoff, I’m keep­ing that stock at home. I’m al­lowed to keep them there, but I have to fence them a me­tre away from the fence.’’

He un­der­stood the M bo­vis test­ing was not 100 per cent ac­cu­rate, lead­ing to false pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive re­sults. ‘‘The thing that makes me a lit­tle bit ner­vous is the ac­cu­racy of this test, ap­par­ently some cows can carry Johne’s [dis­ease] or BVD [Bovine Vi­ral Di­ar­rhoea] and that can in­flu­ence the re­sult of the test. Plus ... we’re in the mid­dle of calv­ing and there’s al­ways a cow with uter­ine in­fec­tion af­ter calv­ing.’’

Tests were be­ing car­ried out five weeks apart and he hoped to be in the clear by June.

PHOTO: HEATHER CHALMERS/STUFF

Dairy farm­ers have tightened their biose­cu­rity mea­sures in an ef­fort to curb the spread of My­coplasma bo­vis.

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