In this update:

The current situation

As at 12 October there are:

Find out about the types of notices, and what they mean here.

If you?ve not done so yet, sign up to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) M. bovis stakeholder update. This is emailed out each Friday. It?s for you, your farmer clients, and anyone else who is interested. Subscribe to this list.

Weaned calves

If your clients are planning on buying, selling, and/or moving weaned calves to grazing there are steps they can take to help protect their animals from M. bovis. Find advice to pass on to your clients here.

Help find unregistered tag numbers

Tracing has shown 720 unregistered radio frequency identification (RFID) ear-tag numbers believed to have originated from an infected property. Please ask your farmer clients to check the numbers in the RFID file available on this page. Let MPI know if you find any by phoning them on 0800 00 83 33.

Calf rearer survey

A survey of around 200 calf rearing properties is on across the country.

The test involves a simple one-off nasal swab on calves at the property. The properties selected are not suspected of having M. bovis.

Read more about the survey here.

Update on bulk milk testing

Bulk milk testing for M. bovis is progressing well.

Milk samples have been taken from every dairy farm in New Zealand. Testing began shortly after the start of calving, when cows are most likely to be shedding the bacterium if they are infected.

Milk samples are being collected from each farm every two weeks, up to a total of six samples over 12 weeks. To date, almost 10,000 of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy farms have completed two rounds of testing. MPI report that so far only three farms have been confirmed with M. bovis through this testing.

This is encouraging, but it?s still too early to speculate about the final results.

If any suspicious results are found in a milk test, MPI will contact the farmer immediately. Dairy companies will continue to keep farmers updated as the testing programme continues.

ELISA test for Mycoplasma bovis do not react to pink-eye antibody

MPI have received suggestions that pink eye in cattle has caused positive Mycoplasma bovis ELISA tests. It is highly possible that this confusion has come about due to the similar shortened bacterial names. The cause of pink-eye, Moraxella bovis, is often shortened to M. bovis; as is the cause of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis.

It is important as veterinarians, that while we are in a Mycoplasma bovis eradication phase that we are careful with client communication to avoid unnecessary confusion. If there is confusion, clients can be assured:

It is important to remember that a Restricted Place Notice is only placed on a property after repeated positive test results for Mycoplasma bovis. Infected Properties are identified by detecting DNA that is specific to Mycoplasma bovis.

M. bovis Strategic Science Advisory Group Workshop

Recently, the M. bovis Strategic Science Advisory Group (SSAG) met to identify and prioritise research required to eradicate the disease.

The workshop brought together around 75 researchers and experts from across the world and from multiple science disciplines. Many research priorities were identified at the workshop, including developing new cost-effective diagnostic tools and improving understanding of M. bovis transmission dynamics, to developing farmer-centric data systems and enhancing communication of the science and evidence base.

The SSAG is committed to proceeding at pace to ensure that science is delivered to support the eradication and the efforts to date. The group has started drafting a detailed science plan, based on the priorities and other outputs of the workshop, which will be finalised in November.

PM sets out recovery package and compensation assistance

Last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Biosecurity Minister Damien O?Connor set out a recovery package to help farmers get back to business more quickly after their farms are cleared of M. bovis. The package also includes extra help for farmers to calculate and file their compensation claims.

Read Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and the Biosecurity Minister Damien O?Connor?s joint media statement here.

Helpful resources for you and your clients

Key contacts