New Zealand culls cattle to halt disease

More than 4,000 cattle are to be culled in New Zealand in a bid to control the spread of mycoplasma bovis.

The disease has been spreading since July and has been found on seven farms in the region.

Cattle from two of the seven farms have already been culled, but now the New Zealand government has announced plans to cull 4,000 animals on five more properties to try and contain further spread.

Five of the farms infected are part of the 16 farm Van Leeuwen Dairy Group owned by Aad and Wilma Van Leeuwen.

Of the seven properties infected, six are in the South Canterbury/Otago region and one is in Rangiora, North Canterbury.

Geoff Gwyn, the director of response for Ministry for Primary Industries, said officials have carried out tens of thousands of tests on the infected properties, neig-hbouring farms, the wider area and has tested bulk milk nationwide.

“The only positive results for the disease have been on seven infected properties, leading us to be cautiously optimistic that we are dealing with a localized area of infection around Oamaru.”

The spokesperson said a culling program was essential.

“To prevent further spread of the disease, around 4,000 cattle on five of the seven infected properties will need to be culled and a program put in place to decontaminate the properties and then re-populate the farms,” he said.

“The two other properties have had a small number of animals culled already and no cattle remain. This whole operation is about managing the disease while keeping our future options open. We want to minimize the risk of further spread of the disease.”

Mycoplasma bovis can infect calves and cows and cause pneumonia, udder infection (mastitis), abortion, arthritis, tendinitis, middle-ear infection and endometriosis and is potentially fatal.

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