The Ministry for Primary Industries says the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area, bringing the total number of infected properties to 14, and says it is testing 30 other farms that have a connection to the affected property.
Mycoplasma bovis is commonly found in cattle globally, including Australia. It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk, but can have serious effects on cattle, including mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. In July, MPI said the disease had been detected in a dairy herd in South Canterbury, the first known outbreak in New Zealand, on two of 16 farms belonging to Van Leeuwen Dairy Group. Around 4,000 cows have been culled and thousands of tests completed.
Milk sampling prior to Christmas revealed a suspected positive result on the farm in the Ashburton area, the ministry's response incident controller David Yard said in a statement.
There has been no sign of any illness in any of the approximately 600 animals on the property but the "affected farm and an associated property have been under controls since Christmas Eve as a precautionary measure. No animals or other risk goods such as used farm equipment have been allowed on or off the property during this time and these controls stand," Yard said.
MPI is also testing another Ashburton area farm that had previously returned inconclusive results. As yet, this farm is not regarded as positive, although it is under control just in case, he said.
The ministry has previously said it had completed 60,000 tests across 220 trace properties and 800 secondary trace properties, and has culled 4,800 cattle from seven infected herds.
Dairy NZ said the announcement "is not the news we wanted as we enter 2018", however it is important that all farmers quickly establish biosecurity practices that reduce the risk of the disease getting onto farms. Among other things, boundary fencing should be secure and double fencing two metres apart will prevent nose-to-nose contact.
"We are still hopeful that M bovis can be controlled and ultimately eradicated from New Zealand. But to do so, everyone who works with cattle in New Zealand has a part to play in helping with this response," DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said.
Public meetings will be held on Jan. 11 in Methven and Ashburton to outline the situation, MPI said.