Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says he’s “deeply disappointed’’ by the detection of cow disease Mycoplasma bovis on farms near Hastings and Winton.
The Ministry for Primary Industries has identified four new properties as positive for the bacterial cattle disease and strongly suspects it is present on one further property.
One of the latest infected properties is in the Hastings district, the other three are within a farming enterprise in Winton.
The suspect property is near Ashburton.
“The fact the disease has been found in the North Island is disappointing to me and, no doubt, will be for farmers too,’’ Mr O’Connor says.
Mr O’Connor says officials are working hard to track the disease.
“We are still unable to identify the source of the disease and that concerns me.”
Mr O’Connor says he will meet with officials to discuss the next steps in dealing with the outbreak.
“I understand this is tough for farmers, people working on these properties and people in these close-knit communities, but everyone is working hard to find solutions.’’
The Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through MPI’s tracing programme and the Winton property was identified through the industry milk testing programme.
All of the movements were prior to July 21, when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI.
The Hastings and Winton properties were placed under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act. This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm.
The suspect property is under voluntary movement controls until its status is confirmed.
Mr O’Connor says it is possible further infected properties could be found.
The bacteria can spend some time in an animal before it is found or they show signs of the disease, which makes our job harder, he says.