Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has spread “beyond all expectation” in the last six days, with the number of properties under regulatory control leaping from 130 to 290, with 38 farms named as actively infected places.
Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has released a statement indicating that the number of farms affected by the disease is far higher than previously thought, and while they always expected to find more properties, “the numbers will likely exceed their earlier modelling”.
Yesterday, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) declared the first case of the cattle disease in North Canterbury, but that does not necessarily mean that the disease is still spreading (all infected farms have been put under a restricted movement notice – meaning no animals can move on or off the properties).
O’Connor said that “the tracing of Mycoplasma bovis is made harder by the poor use of the national animal tracing system (NAIT)”. MPI has been tracking the spread of the disease using cattle movements, but because the NAIT system has not been universally used it’s been difficult to know exactly where cows from infected farms have ended up.
“We do have, unfortunately, quite a black market of cows sold for cash,” Geoff Gwyn, director of readiness and response at MPI told Newsroom.
MPI spokesperson Catherine Duthie was quoted by Radio NZ saying: “The new finds are the result of our tracing uncovering historical movements of animals and then confirming the infection through testing. These movements, in many cases, took place before we even knew Mycoplasma bovis was in the country”.
Last week, it was announced that farmers could end up paying $30,000 each on average to help cover the cost of eradicating the disease, with the rest of the bill being picked up by the government, who now have 250 staff working on the response.
NZ Herald: Numbers of farms under regulatory control for Mycoplasma bovis jumps from 130 to 290
Newshub: 22,000 cows culled, but Mycoplasma bovis worse than previously thought
NewstalkZB: Mycoplasma disease spreads ‘beyond all expectations’ within a week
Rural Life: More farms infected with M. bovis
Radio NZ: First case of cattle disease in North Canterbury found
Newsroom: Black market calf sales hamper M. bovis response