Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease

New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease

"There has been little global investment in science around this disease so the group will look into testing developments to detect Mycoplasma bovis in individual cows, grow understanding of the disease and identify opportunities to support the New Zealand eradication operation".

Though the bacteria poses no threats to food safety, it does cause production losses, as infected cows tend to develop mastitis, severe pneumonia, arthritis and respiratory issues.

The initial outbreak led to concerns that the disease could affect market access for New Zealand's dairy products, and caused a brief dip in the New Zealand dollar.

Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in July 2017.

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Farming is a major part of New Zealand's economy and the country is the world's largest exporter of dairy.

The government said it would bear around two-thirds of the cost, while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest.

Officials carrying out the cull "have the legal authority to forcibly enter farms and kill animals even in cases where a farmer might resist, but they said they hope they don't have to use those powers", Bloomberg reports. "We will work with MPI and industry groups to make sure the system to support farmers is robust and delivers well into the future", Katie says.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", she said.

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Bloomberg reported that officials expect to know by the end of the year whether or not the mission to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is working. They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls.

The disease has been found on 38 farms in New Zealand so far, and it's because of it's relatively low numbers, affecting less than one percent of dairy farms, that eradication is highly possible according to DairyNZ Chairman Jim van der Poel. It has 6.6m dairy cows.

An investigation into how Mycoplasma bovis got into the country is still underway. Some of the slaughtered cattle may be used for beef, but others will be buried on farms or in landfill.

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