Community coming to terms with outbreak: consultant

Initial frustration over the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis has given way to greater understanding in the wider rural community, a former North Otago Federated Farmers president says.

On Monday night, the Ministry for Primary Industries held another community meeting with people affected by the July discovery of the disease.

An MPI spokeswoman described the meeting, which attracted about 60 people, as ''constructive and useful''.

''It gave an update on response activity, explained the controls that are in place, talked through cleaning and disinfection protocols, the testing and surveillance programme, the pathways we are exploring and the welfare support that is available.''

She said the ministry still did not know how the disease breached the country's borders.

''We are looking at four possible means of entry: in live animals, imported semen, embryos, and on contaminated equipment. We are tracing movements of possible risk goods on to the affected properties as part of this investigation. This knowledge will enable any necessary measures to reduce the risk of new outbreaks.''

Oamaru-based farm consultant Richard Strowger said most people believed the disease had been contained.

People were now playing a game of wait and see to have it confirmed through the extensive tests ministry staff were running.

He said the feeling in the community about the new disease was one of ''understanding'' rather than frustration, which previously existed.

''It's no different to when someone is diagnosed with cancer - initially grief and then you have to wait.''

He praised the ministry for its work to this point and hoped communication would remain open.

While the ministry was quick to tell the public it might never know how the disease got through border controls, he said it was a question the community wanted answered.

''All that sort of stuff, but we're not at that stage yet.''

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