A new test that may allow for the elimination of individual animals for Mycoplasma bovis rather than whole herds is expected to change the impact of the disease on New Zealand farmers.
NZ-based biotechnology company Pictor Limited has launched the M bovis test for global markets.
Pictor chief operating officer Steve Richardson said development of the test is complete. It has been externally validated in NZ and Australian labs and is ready for use on NZ farms.
The launch of the Pictor PictVet Mycoplasma bovis Multiplex ELISA kit comes at a time when new active cases of M bovis have been found in Canterbury.
Richardson said the new test will provide a better solution for NZ farmers and NZ tax payers. “We believe we have a better solution to save heartache, money and the M bovis programme a significant amount of money.”
He said M bovis “is not eradicated when new cases are still coming up. We need to do something because we believe we have a better solution for farmers and that’s what we are primarily interested in.
“Our test is 100% NZ developed and 100% NZ manufactured versus a European-based inferior test. It is also cheaper and much more accurate.”
All detail and materials for the test, together with a full submission, have been with the Ministry for Primary Industries since October.
Pictor managing director Jamie Platt said the test that has been extensively validated in 5000 samples, including bulk tank milk, serum, and individual milk specimens.
“We have completed rigorous internal and external validation trials in NZ and Australia before launching the test.
“In side-by-side studies with tests currently used in both Australia and NZ markets, our test has shown superior analytical performance, particularly in bulk tank milk, which is typically used as the primary screening method,” Platt said.
Chief science officer at Pictor Yoichi Furuya said the Pictor PictVetmultiplex ELISA achieves superior performance by using three different antigens for detection, each optimised for the most commonly tested sample types.
“We believe that with the use of our M bovis test, farmers and testing agencies could potentially eliminate individual animals rather than entire herds.
“This approach not only reduces stress on farmers but also helps minimise costs associated with control programmes.”
The manufacturing partner for the Pictor PictVetMultiplex ELISA Kit is Timaru-based South Pacific Sera.
South Pacific Sera co-founder and production director William Rolleston said his company is proud to apply its expertise and quality production systems to this Pictor project and the fight against M bovis.
The new PictVet Mycoplasma bovis Multiplex ELISA kit is currently being launched in multiple markets including Australia, the United States and NZ.
Meanwhile a new M bovis-infected property, a dairy farm in the Selwyn district of Canterbury, brings the number of currently active confirmed properties to two.
The MPI reports that depopulation, cleaning and disinfection and the 60-day standdown period for both active confirmed properties are expected be completed early this year.
Ospri’s general manager for disease control planning and integration, Simon Andrew, said finding further infection in the tail end of an outbreak is not uncommon and it has been previously signalled that more properties could be found.
“It is possible more properties will be confirmed infected in the coming months.”
The new infected farm neighbours the earlier confirmed property and was identified following routine testing.
Initial indications suggest the strain of the latest infection is ST-21, the strain originally detected in 2017 and associated with most recent infections.
Andrew said alongside farmers and the programme’s industry partners Beef and Lamb NZ and DairyNZ, the M.bovis Programme has continued to make significant progress and this development doesn’t change the approach.
The number of infected properties has fallen to very low levels and it is expected that in coming years the major activity of the Programme will be national surveillance of NZ’s cattle herd.
To adapt to the change in focus of work, the delivery of the disease control and operational functions of the Programme recently moved from MPI to disease-management agency OSPRI.
The Programme continues to be led by its programme partners under a government industry agreement.