New round of Mycoplasma bovis milk testing to start

Press Release by Ministry for Primary Industries at 2:56PM, 12 Jul 2018

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is about to carry out a second round of nationwide milk testing, checking the country’s dairy herd for the presence of Mycoplasma bovis.

Under the programme, milk samples from every New Zealand dairy farm will be taken shortly after the start of calving, when cows are most likely to be shedding the bacterium. Samples will be collected from each farm approximately 4 weeks following the start of supply, with the first samples expected to be collected in the North Island in late July. Mycoplasma bovis is very difficult to test for as animals can be carrying the bacteria but not appear ill or show evidence of it in their blood or milk.

Testing at this time of year, when cows are in the early weeks of lactation and under some physical stress (and therefore more likely to be shedding), will yield the most accurate results and provide further information and assurance about the location of the disease in New Zealand. MPI’s director of response Geoff Gwyn says farmers won’t have to do anything as all test samples will be collected as part of the standard on-tanker test process. “Samples will be collected from each farm every 2 weeks up to a total of 6 samples over 12 weeks and tested by Milk TestNZ. Tests will look for both the presence of antibodies to Mycoplasma bovis and also the DNA of the bacterium.” Mr Gwyn says the bacterium itself presents no food safety concern.

Most dairying countries live with Mycoplasma bovis and safely consume milk products. Farmers can expect to receive more information about the testing programme from their dairy companies this week. Dairy companies are working with MPI to support the delivery of the programme, and the wider Mycoplasma bovis eradication plan. Once the programme is completed, farmers with “not-detected” results will receive an email from their dairy company confirming the disease has not been found in their samples. Those in the North Island will receive their results on or before 1 November and those in the South Island will hear on or before 15 November.

Any farm that has a sample where Mycoplasma bovis is detected will be contacted immediately by MPI and given details of the next steps. Mr Gwyn says farms that receive a not-detected result can take some assurance that the bacterium was not in the samples provided. “Unfortunately, however, the complex nature of Mycoplasma bovis means results cannot be taken as a guarantee the farm is free of the infection.” As the eradication programme continues, it’s likely that more rounds of this testing will take place to ultimately confirm that the disease is gone and eradication has been successful.

Vet company says it was named in M. bovis outbreak as part of a ‘commercial vendetta’

Steve Taylor says his unashamed cut-price model for veterinary drugs has opened him up to attacks.

The owner of a vet business under scrutiny by officials investigating the mycoplasma bovis outbreak says he and his customers are the victim of “a commercial vendetta.”

Steve Taylor is a part-owner of Waiheke Island-based Vet Direct Ltd, which imports and supplies cut-price drugs to farmers.

The company undercuts traditional veterinary practices, and Taylor claimed that was why his “unashamedly cut-price” model been targeted by rumour and “spurious information”.

“We never were under investigation … we are clear,” he told Stuff. “I need to defend myself.”






Mycoplasma bovis cow disease to cost farmers $278m

DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel says the industry cost of eradication will come out of a special levy.

Most farmers are reconciled with shelling out $278m as part of their cost to banish the Mycoplasma bovis cow disease from New Zealand shores.

Dairy farmers will fork out the greater proportion – perhaps more than 80 per cent – of the cost with sheep and beef farmers paying the rest. Most of the bill will land in the first few years in exchange for Cabinet signing off on Monday a joint eradication decision between the Government and industry groups.

The Government has decided to cull about 126,000 cattle on top of the 26,000 already being destroyed in an attempt to knock off the disease.








Q&A on Mycoplasma bovis: Untangling truth from fiction of cattle disease

Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand, predicted to cost $1 billion over 10 years.

Speculation has been rife over Mycoplasma bovis as the disease has increasingly taken hold on farms.

Q: Is it the worst biosecurity incursion in New Zealand history?

A: Setting aside the disastrous ecological impact suffered by native species since human arrival, Mycoplasma is the worst economic pest or disease to land in New Zealand. The cost of eradication has been estimated at $886 million over 10 years.

The Psa bacteria which hit the kiwifruit industry in 2010 is the next most serious incursion. For that the Government and industry handed out an aid package of $50 million, and a group of 212 growers and post-harvest operators are claiming losses of $376.4m in a case awaiting a decision in the High Court.






Cull of 126,000 livestock as Cabinet moves ahead with plans to eradicate M bovis

The government and farming industry will attempt to eradicate mycoplasma bovis and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has promised to speed up the compensation process.

The Government says it has one last shot at eradicating the country of Mycoplasma Bovis and it’s going to try.

Cabinet made a decision on Monday to push ahead with ridding New Zealand of the disease, which is on a scale never faced before.

Phased eradication could involve up to 190 properties out of more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms. It’s expected an additional 126,000 livestock will need to be culled on top of the 26,000 already earmarked for slaughter.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the decision to not switch to a management and containment plan was made collectively with farming sector bodies after months of intense analysis to understand the likely impact of M bovis.


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