Third farm with cow disease in Oamaru
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it ‘‘strongly suspects’’ a third South Island farm is positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
It also has indicated the disease could have spread even further because cattle from the farm, near Oamaru, were moved to other farms before the alarm was sounded on July 20, the date M. bovis was detected for the first time in New Zealand.
MPI said no animals had left the property since July 20. It was now contacting the properties which had received the cattle and was testing animals ‘‘with urgency’’.
MPI’s director, response, Geoff Gwyn said the Oamaru farm had a direct connection with one of the infected Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms, where the disease was first confirmed.
It had received some animals from the Van Leeuwen farm before M. bovis was found in New Zealand. Blood test results from the property show some animals have been infected with the disease.
A Restricted Place Notice has been placed over the property, controlling the movement of animals and other risk materials off the farm.
M. bovis is highly contagious within herds but not from farm to farm through airborne means.
It is found in all of the world’s dairy countries, does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk. There is no concern about consuming milk and milk products.
The disease causes untreatable mastitis in dairy and beef cows, pneumonia in up to 30 per cent of infected calves, ear infections in calves, abortions and swollen joints and lameness.
Gwyn said there was no need to name the farm concerned.
The farmer had been in regular contact with MPI and had voluntarily kept stock and risk goods on the farm for more than three weeks while testing took place.
When the disease first struck MPI also refused to name the Van Leeuwens until it was widely known.
MPI was considering whether the farms that had received the cattle from the Oamaru farm would need to have specific controls placed on the movement of risk goods.
‘‘In the meantime, we’re asking the farmers concerned to follow good on-farm hygiene measures and to ensure their NAIT records are kept up to date in case there is a need to trace animals in future.’’
Gwyn said the new detection was not a sign the disease was ‘‘running rampant in New Zealand’’ but was evidence of the extensive surveillance and testing programme working.
Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesman Guy Wigley said there had already been concern about cattle movements between properties which had occurred before mid-July.
‘‘I’m pleased to hear they are following all possible leads,’’ he said.
Gwyn said it was not a ‘‘game changer’’ .
‘‘The disease is being well contained on the known properties and we are confident our control measures are sufficient to contain it there. Our surveillance programme continues to investigate whether the disease had been spreading around the country before it was discovered in South Canterbury.’’
Cows on an a farm near Oamaru look likely to have been infected with the Mycoplasma bovis disease from a Van Leeuwen property.