Three years after first Mycoplasma bovis case 'significant progress' made in eradication - Agriculture Minister

Three years to the day since Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in the country, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says "significant progress" has been made in the fight to eradicate the cattle disease.

Since it was first found, 250 properties have been infected with the disease, with all but four of those now having been cleared of it, O'Connor said on Wednesday.

"The hard and early approach with which we responded to COVID-19 was the exact same approach we took early on in our term as a Government to eradicate M.bovis to protect our national herd, the economic base of our primary sector, and the social good of the country."

He said had the disease been allowed to "run rampant" it could have cost the country $1.3 billion in economic losses in the first 10 years alone, along with bringing significant animal welfare issues.

"The eradication effort has not been without substantial challenges, and the impact on affected farmers can’t be underestimated. Farmers deserve a lot of credit for their efforts. We are continuing to improve processes and work hard to support their wellbeing and recovery, including getting their compensation claims paid as quickly as possible."

He said the Estimated Dissemination Rate (EDR) showed the disease is "firmly in our sights".

"If the EDR is greater than one, then the disease is growing. If it’s below one, we’re shrinking the disease. The EDR is now at 0.4, which is down from over two at the start of the outbreak, so we are looking harder to find fewer infected animals."

The Government will continue to work over the next 12 months to ensure all infected herds have been found.

"There is still work to be done, and there will be more infected farms to find – but we're well and truly on track to do what no other country in the world has done and eradicate this disease."