Posts Tagged ‘Mycoplasma bovis’

MPI and the dairy industry are extending milk testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its dairy industry partners have decided to extend the Mycoplasma bovis milk testing in Canterbury, Otago and Southland into a national milk surveillance programme.

While there is no indication that the disease is present beyond the areas currently identified, the ministry says, checking for other possible regional clusters is essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

The programme will involve testing three milk samples from every dairy farm. One sample will be taken from bulk milk as part of the regular sampling process at milk collection.

Farmers will also be required to provide two samples from ‘discard milk’ (milk unsuitable for collection, such as from cows with mastitis). Mycoplasma bovis is more easily identified in milk taken from otherwise sick animals, which makes testing of the discard milk a valuable surveillance tool.

The extended milk testing programme will enhance the existing nationwide Mycoplasma bovis surveillance activity, which includes tracing of animal movements from infected and suspect farms, vets looking for signs of the disease, testing of any animals with clinical signs, and testing all mastitis milk sent to laboratories.

The ministry is emphasising that Mycoplasma bovis is not a food safety risk. It is a disease that affects animal welfare and production.

It only affects bovines, including dairy cows and beef cattle. It is common in many food-producing nations (like Australia, the United States, and in Europe).

The programme is expected to begin in February and will be rolled out region by region.


Tests confirm Mycoplasma bovis on Ashburton farm

The bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been identified on a farm in the Ashburton area.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ response incident controller, David Yard, says milk sampling carried out by the dairy industry just before Christmas revealed a suspected positive result. The ministry’s Animal Health Laboratory testing has just confirmed this.

“The affected farm and an associated property have been under controls since Christmas Eve as a precautionary measure. No animals or other risk goods such as used farm equipment have been allowed on or off the property during this time and these controls stand,” Mr Yard says.

There has been no sign of any illness in any of the approximately 600 animals on the property.

Mr Yard says that as a result of the new find, the ministry is tracing animal movements on and off the farm to determine if there are links to other affected properties. 

The ministry will carry out checks and testing on some 30 other farms that have had some association with the affected property.

Tests are being conducted on another Ashburton area farm that had previously returned inconclusive results. As yet, this farm is not regarded as positive, although it is under control as a precaution.

The current number of infected properties now stands at 14:

* 9 in South Canterbury
* 3 in Southland
* 1 in Ashburton
* 1 in Hawkes Bay.

Biosecurity Minister disappointed by further findings of Mycoplasma bovis

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.

Mycoplasma bovis update: one new dairy property tests positive

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ testing programme has identified one new property as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The newly identified property is a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm which was already under a Restricted Place notice under the Biosecurity Act.

Response Incident Controller Stephen Bell says the disease doesn’t always present symptoms and often doesn’t show up through just one test.

The ministry therefore has developed a testing protocol which tests herds up to three times at three to four week intervals.

Testing like this, over two to three months, “gives us the confidence we need that we have definite results for each farm,” Mr Bell says.

“This latest detection is evidence of that protocol working.

“It has meant there has been a long period of disruption and uncertainty for farms that are being tested but we have to be absolutely thorough in diagnosing positive and negative farms. It’s important for New Zealand that we take that time to get accurate results”, he says.

The testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis has resulted in over 26,000 of the planned 39,000 tests being completed by the ministry’s Animal Health Laboratory at Wallaceville.

These tests have been focused on the infected properties, stock movement traces from and to those properties, and the neighbouring properties. No adjacent properties have yet been identified as infected.

Officials have also been taking a multi-layer approach to testing to find how far Mycoplasma bovis might have spread.

District-wide surveillance in Waimate/Waitaki has been part of this. Bulk and discard milks were collected from approximately 260 farms in the area and tested. All these results are now back and no further infection outside the Van Leeuwen Group has been found on farms in this area.

There has been a nationwide testing programme, too. Samples of mastitic milk have been collected from regional labs across the country for testing.

Approximately 2,300 samples have been received but tests have not identified infected farms elsewhere in New Zealand.

Mr Bell says taken together, these results are encouraging, suggesting the ministry’s surveillance plan is working “and this disease is not spreading in the local area around the infected farms and is not widespread across the country”.

While the sampling and testing programme continues, the ministry is also preparing for what might happen next.

This involves preparing plans for the different possible scenarios. Eradication is one of the scenarios.

“We hope to have a clear picture by mid-October,” Mr Bell says.

“If samples continue to test negative for Mycoplasma bovis and if the evidence is pointing to the infection being contained to the current properties and not having spread wider, we would expect to have sufficient confidence to assess whether this disease can be eradicated.”

“We know this is an enormously stressful time for the impacted farmers and also for the wider farming community. We are carrying out all our work with urgency to limit the impact on the farming community as much as possible.

More information on Mycoplasma bovis can be found HERE. 


Ministry identifies three new properties as positive for Mycoplasma bovis

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ tracing and testing programme has identified three new properties positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

All three properties have links to existing infected properties, an expected pattern at this stage of the response, says MPI Response Coordinator David Yard says.

The latest detections bring the total number of infected farms to six.

“We fully expect to find more infected properties as we continue our tracing and testing programme. These detections are evidence of the programme working, not of unexpected disease spread.” Mr Yard says.

“All detections to date have links to the original infected properties via animal movements and have been caused by close animal contact. What is encouraging is that, despite intensive testing, no adjacent properties have as yet been identified as infected.

“We have no evidence of any means of disease spread other than close animal contact, at this stage. This includes the disease having jumped fences – which our scientists and vets tell us is highly unlikely to occur.”

Two of the newly identified properties are Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms and were already under Restricted Place notices under the Biosecurity Act.

The third property was a trace farm that had received a small number of calves from the third infected farm confirmed last week. The property is a lifestyle block near Rangiora.

Mr Yard said the ministry is sticking to its policy of not naming the affected properties if the owners do not want this.

The ministry is prevented from doing otherwise by the Privacy Act.

“However, we do understand community concern about the disease and we are strongly encouraging farmers under controls or investigation to talk to their neighbours, customers and suppliers.”

Mr Yard says the ministry is also continuing to contact individual farms where there is higher risk of the disease being present – that is, because they are adjacent to infected properties or are connected through animal movements.

“If farmers have not been contacted by us, then it means they are not in these groups and are at considerably less risk of the disease spreading to them. It’s a case of ‘no news is good news’ If you don’t hear from us, it means it’s not of immediate concern for you.

“In the meantime, we encourage all farmers and rural contractors to help protect their farms and businesses by following standard on-farm hygiene best practice.”

Full information on hygiene measures and other resources are available on the MPI website HERE.

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.