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Why eradicate Mycoplasma bovis

Why eradicate Mycoplasma bovis

Getting rid of this bacteria from our farms will help protect the productivity of our dairy and beef industries, part of our multi-billion dollar export economy and New Zealand way of life.

Farmers, Government, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand are working together as part of a joint Programme to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) from New Zealand.

Until recently, New Zealand was one of a small number of places in the world unaffected by M. bovis.

While the bacteria doesn’t pose a risk to human health and it’s safe to eat meat and drink milk from infected cattle, M. bovis causes a range of conditions in cattle that can have a devastating impact on farm production and animal wellbeing.

Read more on the decision to eradicate.

  • Why we think we can get rid of it

    M. bovis was detected in New Zealand for the first time in 2017. All the evidence suggests that the M. bovis found in New Zealand spread from a single case of the bacteria, most likely entering New Zealand in late 2015/2016.

    We are tracing all cattle that have been in close contact with infected cattle and determining if they’ve been infected.

    Our independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) believes that eradication is possible, based on what we currently know about M. bovis in NZ. No other country has tried to eradicate M. bovis

  • So how did it get here?

    M. bovis could have entered New Zealand by imported:

    • live cattle
    • frozen semen
    • embryos
    • veterinary medicines
    • biological products
    • feed
    • used farm equipment
    • other live animals


    It's possible that we'll never be able to conclusively establish the entry pathway, however we are investigating the movements of risk goods onto the originally affected properties. To date we have not determined conclusively the route of entry.

  • Why let semen and embryos into NZ?

    Live cattle imports stopped in 2013.

    Semen is low risk, due to a long history of safe trade and strict hygiene requirements around collection and use. There’s not enough justification to stop semen and embryo imports, but we do continuously assess the risk.

    Semen has been imported for many years at the rate of around 250,000 units (straws) a season. If semen importation was a significant risk factor, we could expect to have seen a variety of strains of M. bovis and a lot more infection than we are finding.

    Farmers can continue to make decisions around the use of artificial insemination (AI). AI providers have developed biosecurity protocols following the outbreak. Ask your breeding company to tell you about them.

  • Keep up with how eradication's progressing

Farmer tip

Ensure your NAIT records are up-to-date - knowing where cattle have been and gone is crucial to stopping the spread of M. bovis.



M. bovis Strategic Science Advisory Group chair and MPI chief science adviser Dr John Roche, a farmer himself, talks to RNZ about continuing efforts to rid farms of M. bovis.