Sunday, March 3, 2024

New strain of M bovis found on infected property

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Testing stepped up after Mid Canterbury discovery.
M bovis programme director Simon Andrew says while an investigation is underway into historic pathways, the new strain does not affect efforts to eradicate the disease from NZ.
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Testing for Mycoplasma bovis has been stepped up after a new strain was identified on an infected property in Mid Canterbury.

The property is one of three new infected properties identified in the Mid Canterbury region in the past four weeks.  M bovis programme director Simon Andrew said a thorough investigation has been launched into historic pathways.

He said summer testing for the disease will be stepped up after the nationwide surveillance programme identified the new strain.

Genomic testing from a single property 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,” Andrew said.

“It doesn’t affect our efforts to eradicate M bovis from NZ.”

The investigation will include recorded and unrecorded animal movements dating back to 2018, imported feed and farm machinery and frozen semen that was imported before the tightening of 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. 

“Our team is carrying out an investigation on the affected property and at this stage there is no evidence to suggest that there has been any forward spread on any farms that received cattle from this farm.”  

Andrew said the bulk tank milk and beef herd screening alongside cattle tracing work have not identified this strain anywhere else.

“But disease control is all about being cautious, so we will be increasing the summer frequency of our national bulk milk surveillance testing from once a month to every fortnight, as we do over spring.

“We have a national testing regime to find infection, which we didn’t when M bovis was first found in 2017. 

“It is important farmers know we are four years into a 10-year programme, and we remain on track for eradication. 

“We are moving towards a national pest management plan for M bovis much like that used for TB. The aim of that will be to monitor and deal with any disease that pops up over time. 

“If the investigation into pathways reveals further action is required, including targeted testing and surveillance on farm, we will let farmers know, but at this stage the increased frequency of summer bulk tank milk testing, beef surveillance and tracing animals will serve us well,” Andrew said. 

The Mycoplasma bovis Eradication Programme began in May 2018 and is jointly funded by the government (68%) and DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (32%).

Currently there are four infected properties, all in Mid Canterbury, including the Five Star beef feedlot.

The cost of the programme as of June 30 this year is $588 million with $231m paid out in claims.  

To date 178,000 cows have been culled, with the depopulation of the Five Star feedlot scheduled to begin on October 13.

Farmers with any concerns can call 0800 00 83 33 or email  

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