MPI testing for ways to stop spread of disease

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With Mycoplasma bovis being detected on more farms, people are worried about the spread of the disease.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is carrying out tests to find out what measures can be put in place to prevent Mycoplasma bovis from spreading.

MPI response manager David Yard said Mycoplasma bovis had been detected on 17 farms in New Zealand.

“Those farms are on lock-down. They have to get a permit from MPI to move their animals,” Mr Yard said.

The MPI had stopped culling animals until they found out how widespread the disease was,he said.

“We need to find out how many farms the disease is present on before we cull any more animals.

“It is people’s livelihood we are dealing with.”

After the bulk testing was finished, MPI would look at the results to see how widespread Mycoplasma bovis was and if it was still feasible to eradicate it, Mr Yard said.

“At the moment eradication is the preferred option.”

eradicate the disease, New Zealand would become the first country to do so, he said.

If Mycoplasma bovis was found on a farm, the farmer was given the chance to tell their neighbours, he said.

“Their neighbours will find out anyway because we would have to test their farms but we want to give farmers the chance to break it to their neighbours first.”

The MPI would not release a list of farms that had tested positive for the disease for privacy reasons but there would be a sign on the farm gate to let people know that farm was in lock-down, Mr Yard said.

It was a highly stressful time for dairy farmers, he said.

“We have contracted Rural Support to visit farmers that had been affected by Mycoplasma bovis so they would have someone to talk to.”

He advised people to contact Rural Support if they were feeling stressed.

Rural Support can be contacted on 0800 787-254.

Symptoms

bovis is a growing concern for New Zealand farmers.

There are some symptoms farmers can look out for in their herd.

Adults cows:

Abortions – slips, early calves or small calves

Mastitis – swollen, rubbery quarters involving multiple quarters; not painful or hot; non-responsive to treatment; quarters affected will rapidly drop off; cow is not sick.

Lame cows with swollen legs and joints – painful and hot

Calves and young stock:

Lame calves with swollen legs and joints – painful and hot

Fading calves – inflammation of joints and sometimes of the brain

Ear infections – droopy ears, ear discharge, head tilt

Pneumonia – hacking cough

Conjunctivitis – Sticky eyes, white eyes

If farmers see any of these symptoms in their cows, they should call MPI or their vet and have the animals tested as soon as possible.