Farmers will be on high alert after a case of Mycoplasma bovis has been found in the Bay of Plenty.
A dairy farm in Waiotahi, near Opotiki has a confirmed case of the bacterial disease, says Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty president, Darryl Jensen.
Mycoplasma bovis is a bacterial disease that can cause a range of serious conditions in cattle, including pneumonia, arthritis, late-term abortions and mastitis that doesn’t respond to treatment.
The disease has been determined to be present through a number of rounds of testing, a MPI Mycoplasma bovis programme spokesperson says.
This is the first case of the disease in the BOP and Darryl hopes it’s the only one.
“One property is one property too many, to be honest.
“We've been very fortunate up until now that the Bay of Plenty has had no M. bovis positive properties, but this one has occurred and we hope that this is the first and the last one we get.”
He says there’s a slight risk the disease could reach nearby farms or the wider Bay of Plenty, so Ministry for Primary Industries protocols need to be adhered to.
“As long as MPI protocols are adhered to that keeps the risk to a very low level and we just all need to comply.
“All those neighbouring farmers will be educated about what is the best practice and how to minimise the risk of contracting M. bovis.”
The infected farm is under MPI protocols now which involves a lockdown, culling the entire herd and quarantine, says Darryl.
“Those animals are all culled and then it goes through a quarantine process, then the property is all disinfected and we do the best that we can to make sure there's no M. bovis on the property.
“Then after 55 or 60 days the property then gets an all clear and can be started to be repopulated.
“That process is taking place at the present time, and we hope it gets done as quickly and swiftly as is possible, so we can return that farmer to normality.”
The MPI spokesperson says testing for M. bovis is done at the herd level, as there is no individual animal level test available.
“Therefore all animals in an infected management group are culled to ensure that the disease will be eradicated.”
The number of animals on the farm and where the M. bovis originated from is confidential, Darryl says.
He says the national animal identification and tracking system will enable them to find the origin of the disease for this farm.
The disease is spread to other areas by the movement of affected animals and is spread from animal to animal through close contact, bodily fluids and feeding infected milk to calves.
The MPI spokesperson says, the risk to neighbouring properties is very low, and they have not seen across the fence transmission in New Zealand.
“This is the first confirmed case of M. bovis in the Bay of Plenty region.
“There is no reason to believe that because it has arrived on one farm in the Bay of Plenty that it is more widespread in the region, or that it will spread further.”
“We know that learning M. bovis is present on-farm is disruptive and stressful for farmers, families and workers.”
Federated Farmers and the Rural Support Trust are helping the affected farm, Darryl says.
“We feel for this farming operation and we're doing the best we can to support them.
“We’re just making sure that they’re not being left out on a limb or anything like that, because there is the mental cost of this as well.
“We've got to make sure that we help these people the best way we can to get over this hurdle that they’ve incurred in their farming life.”
An MPI spokesperson says the joint MPI, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand Mycoplasma bovis programme offers support to farm families through regional staff, and by funding the Rural Support Trusts to provide support to affected farmers and their families.
“The programme’s regional teams have recovery specialists who help farmers get back to farming free from disease. In addition, farmers with verifiable losses are eligible for compensation.
“M. bovis is currently on 25 properties around New Zealand - 195 properties that had the infection have been cleared to return to farming.
“As part of the ongoing effort to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand, 130,000 animals have been culled across the country.
“M. bovis first arrived in New Zealand in late 2015, early 2016 and isn’t widespread.
“If we allowed it to go unchecked we estimate it would cause $1.3 billion in productivity losses in the first ten years.”