Summer testing for mycoplasma bovis will be ramped up after a new strain of the cattle disease has been found in Mid Canterbury.
That’s the word from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ M. bovis programme director, Simon Andrew, who said the new strain was detected on one of New Zealand’s four remaining positive farms, which were all in Mid Canterbury.
Andrew said genomic testing from a single property, which was previously confirmed with M.bovis, had identified the strain.
“This (strain) doesn’t behave any differently than the strain we have been dealing with, and our existing testing will pick it up, as it has done in this case,’’ he said.
“It doesn’t affect our efforts to eradicate M. bovis from the country.’’
He also said that “at this stage’’ there was no evidence suggesting there had been any forward spread on any farms that got cattle from the new strain property.
Andrew said bulk tank milk and beef herd screening, alongside cattle tracing work, had not identified the strain anywhere else.
Andrew also said a thorough investigation was being carried out into historic pathways, which included all animal movements dating back to 2018, imported feed and farm machinery, and frozen semen brought in before the restrictions on import health standards for bovine germplasm.
“While considered a very low risk, frozen semen used on the affected property, which had been imported prior to the introduction of the new import health standard, is being looked at.’’
Andrew reassured farmers and the community that MPI now had a national testing regime to find infection, which they did not have when M. bovis was first found in 2017. M. bovis was on just four farms now, compared to 40 nationally at the height of the programme, he said.
Andrew also said it was also important for farmers to remember that MPI was four years into a 10-year programme and remained on track for eradication.
“We are moving towards a national pest management plan for M. bovis much like that used for TB. The idea is to deal with any disease that pops up over time,” Andrew said.
“If our investigation reveals that we need to take further steps, we will let farmers know, but at this stage the ramping up of summer bulk tank milk testing, beef surveillance and tracing animals will serve us well.”
- By Pat Deavoll