Mycoplasma bovis information

What is Mycoplasma bovis?

  • Mycoplasma bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness. This has animal welfare implications and can, if not managed cause significant loses to dairy and cattle producers.
  • Mycoplasma bovis primarily infects cattle. It is a silent spreader, cattle may be infected but not ill. The disease mainly spreads between cows in close contact. Generally prolonged or repeated contact with infected animals is  required for the disease to be transmitted. Calves may become infected through drinking un-pasteurised milk from infected cows.
  • Mycoplasma bovis is spread off-farm mostly through movement of infected cattle. This disease is not spread across long distances on the wind or in water. Other animals are very unlikely to be infected by the disease. Mycoplasma bovis does NOT survive in the soil for a long period. (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis Johnes disease) is reported to survive in soil for a long period)
  • Mycoplasma bovis does not infect humans, and is not a food safety risk.
  • Australia has the disease and manages it. MPI and industry are working with Australian experts to build a picture of what this outbreak may mean for New Zealand

What can farmers do?

Farmers should look out for:
  • unusual mastitis in cattle that doesn’t respond to treatment,
  • arthritis in cows and calves,
  • late term abortion,
  • pneumonia in calves.
Not all infected animals get sick, but they can pass on the disease to other animals. The greatest risk of Mycoplasma bovis infection is through close contact between animals
In the first instance call your Vetlife veterinarian. If your veterinarian advises, call the Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline (0800 80 99 66). You will be asked for your name, contact details, and any other details you wish to provide (all details are confidential). An investigating veterinarian will phone you back and help with assessment and follow-up of the case. All response testing for Mycoplasma bovis is covered by MPI.

Practice good on-farm biosecurity

Keep NAIT and other animal movement records up to date

Accurate record-keeping is vital to track the spread of the disease and help control it. It is critical that you maintain up to date and accurate NAIT and animal movement records.

The current situation

Mycoplasma bovis was confirmed in July 2017 on 2 farms in a 16 farm dairy enterprise in South Canterbury. There are now 13 properties in total confirmed as positive for the disease. (22/12/2017)  These are predominantly in the Oamaru area with additional positive properties in Hawke’s Bay and Southland confirmed in December 2017. All infected properties are under Restricted Place Notices under the Biosecurity Act. These legal controls restrict the movement of stock and equipment on and off those farms to contain the disease.

How can I find out more?

You can subscribe to MPI’s stakeholder updates through this link:

M Bovis information is here:

If you have disease concerns ring MPI hotline – 0800 00 83 33

Local Rural Support Trust is 0800 787 254

Useful Documents

Biosecurity Farm Action Plan

Biosecurity top 11 points

Clinical signs poster

A3 Cleaning poster **

2017 Guidelines for farmers

Pre-Purchase checklist

DairyNZ Biosecurity

Mycoplasma bovis FAQ

Managing service bulls

Advice on using local or imported semen

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