Veterinarians are helping farmers with response to Mycoplasma bovis

The New Zealand Veterinary Association is supporting veterinarians to help farmers respond to the detection of Mycoplasma bovis in a dairy herd in South Canterbury/North Otago. Led by the association’s Dairy Cattle Veterinarians and Sheep and Beef branches, it is working closely with members and the Ministry for Primary Industries to provide technical advice and support to veterinarians to be alert to the symptoms of this disease.

About 150 cows are affected on the property which has around 1000 milking cows.

The disease is commonly found in cattle, including in Australia, but this is  the first detection of it in New Zealand.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn, says Mycoplasma bovis does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk. There is no concern about consuming milk and milk products.

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

“Right now we’re working with the farmer to contain the disease to the affected farm and treat the animals showing symptoms. We are very appreciative of his support in this work.”

Mr Gwyn says the ministry has  put legal restrictions in place to stop any movement of stock from the property while the scale of infection is determined.

The ministry was advised of sick cattle at the property on Monday last week and Mycoplasma bovis was confirmed by its Animal Health Laboratory late on Saturday.

 “Fourteen 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.

“Right now, we do not know when or how the disease entered New Zealand,” Mr Gwyn says.

Mycoplasma bovis only affects cattle and has no effect on other animals.

The ministry is tracing movements of animals on and off the property to ascertain if other properties are at risk.

Farmers are being advised to call their veterinarian if they suspect their dairy cattle are showing any of the clinical signs of the disease. These can include:

– Mastitis in dry and milking cows.

– Arthritis in cows.

– Late term abortions.

– Premature calves.

Full technical information for veterinarians on Mycoplasma bovis, prepared and distributed by the NZVA Dairy Cattle Veterinarians branch, can be found here.

The ministry has released the following information on Mycoplasma bovis – the diseases it causes, its surveillance, diagnosis and control.




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