Huge turnout for Mycoplasma bovis meeting

MPI director of response Geoff Gwyn addressing the crowd while those who couldn't get a seat watch on.

A large contingent of concerned Southlanders packed Winton's Memorial Hall this week to gain further understandings of the Mycoplasma bovis disease found in the district.

The Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed last week that three Winton properties tested positive for the disease; there are now 13 confirmed infected properties across the country since the disease was first discovered in July.

MPI hosted a community meeting in Winton on Tuesday, December 19 to provide an explanation of its biosecurity response.

The hall was packed, with a large number of attendees left to stand along the sides and down the back of the hall.

Southland District Council deputy mayor Paul Duffy introduced the meeting and was happy to see such a strong turnout.

"I'm not surprised, but very proud to see so many of you tonight."

MPI director of response Geoff Gwyn wanted to reassure people that MPI was working hard to remedy the issue.

"No one is packing up the tent and going home; we don't want it but we're working hard to get rid of it.

"It's a bloody hard bugger to find."

Mr Gwyn says since July there had been more than 60,000 tests undertaken at a national regional level, with 250 primary traces and around 800 secondary traces. On top of that, around 5000 cattle had been culled.

"We've culled seven infected herds… Culling at a herd level is the best way to get rid of this disease."

However, due to a recommendation from an International Technical Advisory Group, MPI will not cull any more cattle for the next month. It is instead looking to gain further information on tracing the movements of the cattle and where they had moved.

"What we're focusing on is all of the legal movement on and off their properties from the beginning of the year."

Mr Gwyn says tracing efforts now were crucial, and if the disease were a recent incursion then it would offer the best shot of getting rid of it.

MPI veterinary technical supervisor Victoria Barrell asked the public to be patient when it came to awaiting the results of further testing as they had to go through a rigorous process. 

"We rely on multiple samples from multiple animals from multiple testing… We need to be absolutely confident in the test results we're getting. We want to make sure the information we give you is correct," she says.

Waimate farmer Mark Shefford spoke at the meeting due to his personal experience with the disease as nearby farms were affected by Mycoplasma bovis.

"You guys are lucky, you got a head start... You've got all that information we had to wait for at your fingertips."

Despite seeing how badly the disease affected his neighbouring properties, Mr Shefford remained optimistic on eradication.

"We will get rid of it, one way or another."

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