Thank goodness I'm not a cow — oh I heard that "says who".

No one would want to be a dairy cow at the moment with Mycoplasma bovis on the rampage in our country.

I feel so sorry for the farmers, it must be devastating for them financially and emotionally.

Thousands of cows have been culled — 11,000 so far — with the prospect of the total rising to more than 20,000 by the end of June.

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How did the disease get into the country in the first place? And why are we not focusing on finding the cause and a cure rather than blindly killing every animal that shows the slightest sign of the disease?

Imagine if they did that to humans. There wouldn't be anyone left on the planet.
The minute you sneezed or coughed you would be lined up and shot.

It's an absolutely horrendous image, but of course it doesn't happen. We have doctors to help us and scientists who are always s looking at ways to ease or cure disease.

According to Forward Farming's managing director, David Law, we should be focusing more on "trying to make the host stronger than the disease".

Now that makes sense.

He said on telly yesterday morning that we should be looking at producing better feed and soil.

Now I'm far from an expert on the subject of Mycoplasma bovis, or farming for that matter.

But it seems to me that again everything comes back to the land and therefore the environment.

If our waterways are polluted it stands to reason that whatever is irrigated from these polluted rivers has a high risk of causing distress in some way of another.

According to DairyNZ's online site, Mycoplasma bovis "is commonly found in cattle all over the world, including in Australia, but this is the first detection of it in New Zealand. We were one of the last countries free of the disease - until now. It does not infect humans and presents no food-safety risk. There is no concern about eating meat, milk and milk products".

It affects the cows in several different ways: Untreatable mastitis, sever pneumonia, ear infections in calves, abortions, swollen joints and lameness — and that's just a few of the symptoms.

In yesterday's paper we ran a story warning people not to collect any shellfish from the coastline from Mahanga Beach in Mahia to the southern end of Porangahau.

That's a huge stretch of water. The warning from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) comes after paralytic shellfish toxins were detected at levels of concern.

The warning said anyone eating shellfish from this area is potentially at the risk of illness.

I imagine the shellfish ban, which includes mussels, oysters, tuatua, pipi, toheroa,
cockles, scallops, catseyes, kina (sea urchin) and all other bivalve shellfish (and cooking does not remove the toxin), will affect many families and whānau who rely on the sea for a good proportion of their daily food.

Many of them may not have the money to buy food to replace it.

We have had these warnings before but they seem to be becoming more frequent and involving larger areas of our "clean, green New Zealand" coastline.

We all need to play a part in trying to repair that damage done to our land and waterways. We can start by simply being more mindful of it.

The bigger picture needs to come from the people who work the land and sea (after all, they know more about what's good for it and what's not than anyone else) and the Government.

The sooner the better.

■Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.

■Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.