The bacterial disease Mycoplasma bovis has been found in New Zealand cows for the first time on a dairy farm in South Canterbury.
The disease poses no threat to humans either from infection or from food safety as it cannot be passed on by consuming milk and milk products.
However, cattle with the disease can suffer “udder infection (mastitis), abortion, pneumonia and arthritis”, Geoff Gwyn, the director of MPI’s response to the disease said in a press release.
So far, fourteen cows have tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis with around 150 other cows on the property that might be affected.
Dairy New Zealand CEO Tim Mackle told Newstalk ZB the disease “is quite infectious so if you do have mobs of animals together and some are affected it can spread quite quickly, particularity in calves.”
Massey University epidemiologist Roger Morris told Newstalk ZB the disease has caused major problems overseas, particularly in Australia with treatment proving “unsuccessful around the world and the animals basically have to be culled.”
MPI is now working with farmers to contain the disease, but don’t know how it arrived in New Zealand. Geoff Gwyn told Radio NZ that farmers should call their vets if they see any signs of unusual mastitis or other symptoms and that the disease had “quite a long lead-in period before it manifests itself”.
A number of local media outlets covered the outbreak:
Stuff.co.nz: Cow disease found in dairy herd for first time in New Zealand
NZ Herald: Bacterial disease mycoplasma bovis found in New Zealand cows for the first time
Newstalk ZB: Dairy NZ hoping to get rid of cattle disease before it spreads
Newstalk ZB: Cattle disease found on South Canterbury farm
Radio NZ: Highly contagious disease infects NZ dairy herd