Cattle disease hits north Wairarapa
Infectious bacterial disease Mycoplasma Bovis has been discovered on a Pahı¯atua sheep and beef farm in Tararua District owned by Landcorp.
It is the second infection of a cattle herd in the North Island after the virus was discovered on a farm near Hastings in December.
In a statement, The Ministry for Primary Industries said the affected farm was connected to other infected properties through animal movements.
Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said MPI had blown its chance to contain the disease in the South Island and was disappointed by the toll it was likely to take on local farmers.
‘‘We’ve had the pea weevil outbreak in Wairarapa so we’re familiar with how to lock down everything and get everyone on board and work together and make a sacrifice to make sure the peas don’t get out.
‘‘You’d think the same thing could be repeated with this virus, but unfortunately MPI has let it get away on them.’’
In July 2017, the bacterial infection Mycoplasma bovis was found in cattle in the Oamaru area of the South Island.
The difficult-to-treat disease causes mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis in cattle, which can carry and spread the disease for long periods.
MPI is now undertaking large-scale culling operations aimed at eradicating the virus and destroying an estimated $36.5 million worth of cattle.
MPI director of response Geoff Gwyn said the Pahı¯atua farmer concerned with this latest detection had been very cooperative with movement controls and had not moved any animals off the property, except to slaughter, since even before legal restrictions were issued.
While this was the second North Island detection it should not be considered a major turning point in the response, Gwyn said
‘‘This is, in fact, just a further property uncovered through robust tracing activity. It is likely we will find further positive properties as this tracing continues.
‘‘We have a number of farms in the North and South Islands under quarantine while we carry out testing. The reality of farming is that large numbers of cattle are routinely moved about the country.’’
The Pahı¯atua farm was owned and run by Landcorp.
Landcorp (Pa¯mu) head of communications Simon King said the infection was found on their Rangedale farm. ‘‘Pa¯mu is working with MPI and local veterinary services and we are currently culling the impacted herd.’’
He said they had been in touch with neighbouring properties to advise them of the potential that the farm was infected last week.
They also held a community meeting on Wednesday to update neighbours and the actions being taken.
As well as the Pahı¯atua property, MPI also confirmed two further positive properties in Southland.
Gwyn said, despite speculation, there had been no positive detections in Waikato.
The areas spread throughout New Zealand with infections included Canterbury, Hawke’s Bay, Mid-Canterbury, South Canterbury/North Otago, and Southland.
* Affected farmers can get more information on the support available at 0800 RURAL HELP.
In what is likely to become common practice in parts of the North island, visitors pass through a disinfecting foot bath in South Canterbury. Alastair Scott