Investigation underway into cow infection on South Canterbury farm

The Ministry for Primary Industries says the cattle disease mycoplasma bovis has been detected in a dairy herd in South Canterbury, the first known outbreak in New Zealand.

Mycoplasma bovis is commonly found in cattle globally, including in Australia, according to MPI. It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk and so "there is no concern about consuming milk and milk products," said the ministry's director of response Geoff Gwyn.

"This bacterial disease can, however, have serious effects on cattle including udder infection (mastitis), abortion, pneumonia and arthritis," he said.

MPI does not know when or how the disease entered New Zealand but "14 cows have tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis and approximately 150 cows on the property have clinical signs that indicate they may be affected. MPI is now tracing movements of animals on and off the property to ascertain if other properties are at risk, said Gwyn.

According to MPI the disease can have a long lead-in period where animals may not show obvious signs and may have been here for some months already. Legal restrictions are in place to stop any movement of stock from the property while the scale of infection is determined.

The bacterium is an 'Unwanted Organism' under the Biosecurity Act 1993.


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