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Govt decision on M. bovis cattle disease

30 May 2018

The bacterium causes illness in cattle, including udder infections, abortion, pneumonia and arthritis. The bacteria is not harmful to humans and does not pose a threat to food safety.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, described as "difficult" the decision to implement this plan, which aims to curb a disease that affects farm animals but which could also be extended to wild animals. "But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd".

Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in July a year ago, and manifests in mastitis in cows, severe pneumonia, ear infections and other symptoms. Milk products represent the country's largest single export, and much of it is sold to China and used in infant formula.

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Many healthy cows will also be killed.

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

New Zealand has already culled 26,000 cattle in the 10 months since the disease was discovered. It has 6.6m dairy cows.

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Federated Farmers, an advocacy organisation, said there were some farmers who opposed the cull but authorities needed to try to address the bacteria before it was too late. The nation would be spending near about NZ$800m (five hundred sixty million dollars) over about ten years in order to protect the dairy herd of New Zealand and secure the future dairy production of the nation's farming industry, which yields the nation the second largest profit. A further 126,000 animals, at 192 properties, will be added to the cull, at a cost of NZ$886 million (€526 million, $615 million).

"This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having yet a test that clearly identifies the individual animals", he said.

Bloomberg reported that officials expect to know by the end of the year whether or not the mission to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is working.

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An investigation into how Mycoplasma bovis got into the country is still underway. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered.

Govt decision on M. bovis cattle disease