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Mycoplasma Bovis - what you need to know

What is it?
Mycoplasma Bovis is a common bacterial disease found in cattle all over the world, but NZ and Norway have been the only MBovis free countries, helping us keep a good name and healthy productive cows. MBovis is widespread internationally, and other meat and dairy producing countries successfully manage it and trade in animal products.

How is it spread?
It is spread animal to animal through close contact, but is also potentially spread through contaminated equipment and untreated milk fed to calves. There has been suspicions that infected bull semen can also transmit the disease, but not proven. It is not windborne.

What are the symptoms?
For some cattle, none. The disease can lie dormant causing no issues at all, but may flare up in times of stress.  In others, it can cause untreatable mastitis (udder infection) in cows, leading to lower productivity and health issues.

Also, it causes severe pneumonia in up to 30% of infected calves, ear infections in calves, arthritis, abortions, and swollen joints and lameness.

Can it be treated?
Some of the conditions can be treated, but affected cattle will always be carriers of the disease.

Can it harm humans or other animals?
MBovis primarily affects cattle (although there has been one reported case of Mbovis in a white tailed deer, and occasional rare reports of it affecting pigs kept with affected cattle), and does not cause disease in humans. It is not a food safety risk, and the meat and milk can be consumed without concern.

How did Mycoplasma bovis get here?
MPI is looking at seven possible means of entry: Imported live cattle, imported frozen semen, imported embryos, imported veterinary medicines and biological products, imported feed, imported used farm equipment and other imported live animals. MPI warns it may never be able to identify how it got into the country.

Advice for worried clients?
Keep up to date with NAIT, know where your stock and milk comes from and be watchful with your herd.

What is the Government planning on doing?
On Monday 28th May the Government decided to eradicate the disease - check out all the information with this article from Stuff, here.


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