A Milestone in Eradication Efforts
New Zealand celebrates a significant achievement, announcing the successful eradication of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) from all farms in the country.
The collaborative efforts of the Government and the primary sector have brought them closer to achieving a world-first eradication of the disease. With the last known infected property in Mid-Canterbury now declared disease-free, the nation proudly boasts zero confirmed infections of M. bovis.
Five Years of Determination and Collaboration
Damien O’Connor, the Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister, expressed his appreciation for the hard work, sacrifice, and collaboration of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, and Beef+Lamb New Zealand in reaching this milestone.
The eradication process has not been without challenges, and the affected farmers and their families have endured hardships. Nevertheless, despite the challenges faced, the efforts of the broader sector in enhancing animal tracing have successfully enabled the program to enter a new surveillance phase.
A Bold Decision to Safeguard the National Herd
In 2018, the New Zealand government, in partnership with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand, made the bold decision to become the first in the world to attempt the eradication of M. bovis.
The goal was to protect the national herd, Kiwi farming businesses, and the country’s record export growth.
The consequences of allowing M. bovis to become endemic were estimated to incur a staggering cost of $1.3 billion in lost production over ten years.
An Unprecedented Achievement
The successful eradication effort marks a remarkable milestone in New Zealand’s battle against M. bovis. At the peak of the program, the country had 40 infected properties, and now, none remain.
The absence of both confirmed infections and ongoing investigations is a testament to the effectiveness of the 10-year program.
A Transition to the Next Phase
The focus now shifts to the next phase of the M. bovis program, as New Zealand moves towards adopting a national pest management plan (NPMP), similar to the one used for Bovine Tuberculosis control.
This transition comes as the country clears active M. bovis infections and intensifies background surveillance.
Consulting Stakeholders for a Resilient Future
The management agency for the NPMP, OSPRI, is well-prepared to handle M. bovis. The Government plans to engage with farmers and the public to determine the exact structure of the NPMP.
Staying vigilant and maintaining rigorous detection systems and on-farm records will be vital to safeguard the gains achieved through immense efforts over the last five years.
Building Resilience and Strengthening Biosecurity
The success of New Zealand’s eradication program is a testament to the determination and cooperation of all involved.
As the country enters a new phase, the focus remains on fortifying the farming sector’s resilience and enhancing the biosecurity system to ensure the sacrifices made and the hardships faced by affected farmers lead to a disease-free future for New Zealand’s cattle.
History and About Mycoplasma Bovis Eradication
Mycoplasma bovis is a bacterial pathogen that primarily affects cattle, causing a wide range of clinical symptoms and economic losses in the livestock industry. It is a unique member of the Mycoplasma genus due to its ability to cause chronic disease and its resistance to common antibiotics.
The bacterium mainly targets the respiratory system, leading to pneumonia-like symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, and nasal discharge.
In addition to respiratory issues, Mycoplasma bovis can also lead to other conditions like arthritis, mastitis (inflammation of the udder), and reproductive problems in cows.
Challenges to Overcome
One challenging aspect of managing Mycoplasma bovis infections is its ability to persist in herds for long periods without causing apparent signs of illness. This makes early detection and control measures crucial in preventing further spread within and between farms.
The bacteria transmit through direct contact with infected animals or exposure to contaminated equipment, feed, or water sources. Veterinary professionals play a vital role in diagnosing this disease by conducting laboratory tests on samples collected from affected animals.
Efforts are being made globally to control and prevent the spread of Mycoplasma bovis infections. These include implementing strict biosecurity measures on farms such as quarantine procedures for new animal introductions, regular testing programs for early identification, culling infected animals when necessary, and using appropriate disinfectants for cleaning facilities.