A property in the Tasman district has been confirmed as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

It's the first time the disease has been found in this region.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said in a statement the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm near Motueka. The farm was identified through the tracing of animals from known infected farms. It was connected to other infected properties through animal movements.

MPI said the farm was now under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993. This effectively places the farm in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm.


MPI said it would not publically name the farm, but neighbours who shared a boundary with the infected property would be notified. The risk to neighbouring farms was very low.

All infected groups of cattle on the farm would be culled, in agreement with the farmer concerned around timing.

Mycoplasma bovis response incident controller Catherine Duthie said the new infected property was expected given intensive tracing work undertaken by MPI.

"We know that this disease is spread through contact between animals and through the movement of stock – as is the case here.

"I know an obvious question people will have is 'Why has it taken this long to find this property?'. The answer to that lies with the nature of this particular bacteria.

"It is a tricky thing to find and often hides within an animal, lying dormant and not revealing itself for weeks or months. This is why we test multiple times using multiple kinds of tests".

Dr Duthie said the discovery of new infected properties was not because the disease is currently spreading off infected farms.

"All known infected farms or farms we suspect may be positive are in quarantine lockdown and no movements of risk goods, including animals, are allowed off them.


"Rather, the new finds are the result of our tracing uncovering historical movements of animals and then confirming the infection through testing. These movements, in many cases, took place before we even knew Mycoplasma bovis was in the country."

Dr Duthie said while it may be little comfort to those infected farmers, progress was being made in the response.

"Nationally, the number of active infected properties has dropped to 35, while 28 farms have been cleaned and depopulated and those farmers are moving forward with their farming business."

The response team is looking into ways farmers can be better supported as they move into the recovery phase and work towards repopulating their farms.

"In addition, the latest identified properties show the infection has occurred fairly recently, which means we are catching it earlier. This is good news for the eradication effort.

"It's important to note that with the spring bulk milk surveillance programme beginning in the North Island, there is a chance that the number of infected properties may increase. However, we are cautiously optimistic the number will not increase dramatically.

"This is a really tough time for all the affected farmers who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. MPI, Rural Support Trusts, and industry are supporting them but they will also need support from their neighbours and communities."