Early test­ing sug­gests ‘M. bo­vis’ erad­i­ca­ble


WELLING­TON: Early re­sults from na­tion­wide bulk milk test­ing for My­coplasma bo­vis sug­gest erad­i­ca­tion re­mains pos­si­ble, the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries says.

To date, more than 51,000 of about 70,000 tests have been com­pleted and only three of those farms have been con­firmed as hav­ing the cat­tle dis­ease.

Test­ing to date re­in­forces the the­ory the coun­try is fac­ing a sin­gle strain of the bac­te­rial in­fec­tion that af­fects cows.

‘‘All three prop­er­ties were al­ready part of our trac­ing pro­gramme and they all have pre­vi­ously known links to the dis­ ease. One of these prop­er­ties was un­der sur­veil­lance and the other two were about to go un­der sur­veil­lance,’’ MPI My­coplasma bo­vis direc­tor Ge­off Gwyn said.

The dis­ease was first de­tected in a dairy herd in South Can­ter­bury in July last year, mark­ing the first known out­break in New Zealand.

In May this year, the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced it would at­tempt a ‘‘phased erad­i­ca­tion’’, at an es­ti­mated cost of $886 mil­lion over 10 years. Phased eradi­ cation in­volves on­go­ing de­pop­u­la­tion and in­cludes any new in­fected prop­er­ties. If suc­cess­ful, it will be a world first.

At the time, the Gov­ern­ment said a fur­ther round of na­tional bulk milk sur­veil­lance test­ing was sched­uled in spring.

It planned to as­sess the op­er­a­tion based on that and other in­for­ma­tion in late 2018 or early 2019.

Un­der the test­ing pro­gramme, milk sam­ples from ev­ery New Zealand dairy farm are be­ing taken shortly af­ter calv­ing, when cows are most likely to be shed­ding the bac­terium.

For each farm, the first sam­ple was col­lected around four weeks from the start of milk sup­ply. Sam­ples were then col­lected ev­ery two weeks, with a to­tal of six sam­ples from each farm.

‘‘The fact that we have con­firmed My­coplasma bo­vis on only three farms, and that all three of them were al­ready on our radar, is en­cour­ag­ing,’’ Mr Gwyn said.

‘‘It re­in­forces our be­lief that we are deal­ing with a sin­gle strain of My­coplasma bo­vis, based on the avail­able sci­en­tific ev­i­dence and our own work in the field.’’

Mr Gwyn re­it­er­ated he was con­fi­dent ‘‘we are on the right path in terms of track­ing down the dis­ease and erad­i­cat­ing it from New Zealand’’.

Full re­sults from the bulk milk test­ing are ex­pected to be de­liv­ered to the ma­jor­ity of farm­ers early next month. — Busi­nessDesk

Ge­off Gwyn

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