WELLINGTON, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) — New Zealand moves closer to a world-first eradication of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis), Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said on Wednesday.

New Zealand has no farms infected with the cattle disease as the joint government and primary sector eradication effort moves into its next phase, O’Connor said while announcing the milestone.

The last known infected property in Mid-Canterbury of the South Island has been destocked and declared disease-free, taking New Zealand to zero confirmed infections after five years, the minister said.

“Allowing M. bovis to become endemic was estimated to come at a cost of 1.3 billion NZ dollars (790 million U.S. dollars) in lost production in the first 10 years alone,” he said, adding there was once a peak of 40 infected properties across the country.

“This is the first time we’ve had no cases and no investigations (of M.bovis cases),” the minister said, adding no confirmed infections had been detected in New Zealand from the background surveillance since April 2022.

New Zealand announced in 2018 a goal to be the first in the world to eradicate M. bovis to protect its national herd, Kiwi farming businesses, and its record export growth.

With almost 184,000 cattle culled, including 280 farms depopulated, nearly 3,000 farms subject to movement controls and many more undergoing on-farm testing, the eradication program has touched nearly every farming community across the country, he said.

“It’s vital that we all stay vigilant and diligent so that the herds sacrificed and the emotional hardship of affected farmers wasn’t all for nothing,” O’Connor said.

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