By Guy Trafford
The decision of MPI to pursue the goal of eradication of mycoplasma bovis still is the major news on the dairy front.
Already the response is the most expensive response to a bio-security incursion into New Zealand and no doubt more costs are still to come.
However, the focus is now on how it got here.
MPI have announced the three simultaneous searches were conducted on Monday in both the North and South Islands seeking evidence relating to potential breaches of legislation related to the mycoplasma bovis response. Most people seem to believe the likely breach is from irregular importation of ‘breeding material’, although, given the length of time frozen semen and embryos have been being imported make this less likely.
One form of transmission that while seemingly on the surface highly unlikely and somewhat frightening is the potential from human transmission.
In relatively uncommon cases M Bovis can cause a form of TB in humans. So is it feasible to believe that an infected person could pass the disease back to an animal.
MPI mention seven potential sources of disease of which one they have taken pains to delete any copy of. Could it be because it is too unsavoury to contemplate?
There is plenty of evidence to show humans can be infected with mycoplasma bovis but very difficult to find evidence of the reverse occurring.
But given the potential of many of New Zealand’s dairy workers coming into contact with animals overseas it doesn’t then seem beyond the realms of possibility to believe that they could then potentially infect animals in New Zealand.
What makes it seem that MPI do not view this as how the disease came in is the lack of planning in their response plans to prevent this route of infection occurring in the future. To date all of the planning is focusing on increased screening of semen and embryos and a temporary ban on live cattle imports.
Their unfortunate decision to blank out key parts of the ‘pathways’ report only leads to speculation which probably, even by me, is not useful.