Anxious wait for unaffected farmers over mycoplasma bovis disease

Since the break out of mycoplasma bovis disease it's been an anxious wait for unaffected farmers hoping the Ministry of Primary Industries has done enough to contain the spread.

"It's nervous times and we just hope tests keep turning up negative and MPI have done the job," farmer Ryan O'Sullivan says.

MPI is working to eradicate the incurable bacterial disease discovered in New Zealand for the first time three months ago.

"We believe we have it contained as I said I think we are about 90 percent confident we understand its distribution across NZ, but testing continues as does pathway analysis to understand how it got here," MPI spokesman Geoff Gwynne says.

Seven farms have so far tested positive for the disease in parts of Canterbury and Otago - it's been contained to farms all owned by one dairy group. 

MPI says the only way to stop it spreading further is to destroy 4000 of the affected cows but won't say what meat works the cows will be processed at but the severely ill ones will be dealt with on the property while the rest will be sent for slaughter. 

"There's a young share milking couple involved that's their life's work being put on trucks, really difficult, real emotional cost to this too," Mr O'Sullivan says.

But there's no cost to the consumer - the disease that can kill cattle has no effect on milk or meat consumption.

It's concerned farmers who are worried they could lose part of their livelihood next.

"They're come to work for you every day, they're your number one asset, most have fond attachment. It's really difficult to see an entire herd slaughtered," Mr O'Sullivan adds.