The Ministry of Primary Industries has today reported that its Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) programme has depopulated all confirmed infected properties in the Wakanui area of mid-Canterbury and cleaned and disinfected the affected farms.
The Controlled Area put in place in October will be lifted tomorrow (Friday 17 March), programme director, Simon Andrew confirmed.
“Wakanui farmers will be able to farm free of M. bovis when we revoke the Conrolled Area Notice (CAN) that was declared to help eliminate infection from the area,” Mr Andrew said.
“These farmers have had to farm with M. bovis in their region since December 2017 when the first M. bovis farm in Ashburton was discovered.
“As we have not found M. bovis outside of Canterbury in more than 2 years and this has been one of the last remaining pockets of confirmed M. bovis infection, we needed to take a different approach to protect farmers and their cattle.”
He said the Ministry will continue to monitor the area closely and is taking a cautious approach, so it can act quickly should there be reinfection in the wider national herd.
To ensure swift action can be taken, the feedlot will remain under an RP notice for a period while precautionary surveillance activities are undertaken, and we are assured our actions have been successful, Mr Andrew said.
He said the CAN had been an important step towards ensuring the pocket of infection was eliminated.
The eight cattle properties in the ‘high-risk’ area have been cleared of stock, including the removal of infected and in-contact cattle. Stringent testing and monitoring for infection in cattle during the past six months in the ‘at-risk’ area has not identified the presence of M. bovis, the Ministry confirmed.
“We know the last four and a half years for farmers in this area have not been easy,” Mr Andrew said.
“We recognise the hard work and sacrifices these farmers have made and we are continuing to work closely with them, to provide support where needed.”
The Programme’s national background surveillance screening is continuing to give confidence that M. bovis infection is not widespread, he said. These programmes will continue for a further four years, to quickly detect any last remaining infected farms and gather the necessary evidence to declare freedom from M. bovis in New Zealand.
“It’s critical the farming community maintain good on-farm biosecurity standards so the Programme can continue to build on the progress made.”
“Keeping NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) records up to date is crucial to our ability to monitor risk and track down potentially infected animals before M. bovis spreads to other farms.
“We are as close to moving to the next phase of eradication as we have ever been, but we could not have got this far in the eradication effort without the hard work and sacrifices made by farmers in Wakanui and across New Zealand.
“While this is positive news, it doesn’t mean the job is done. It is likely that we’ll find more infected cattle before we declare success and if we do find any infection, we will deal with the situation quickly and carefully,” Mr Andrew said.
The Mycoplasma bovis Eradication Programme began in May 2018 and is jointly funded by Government (68%) and DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (32%).