Meat & Livestock News

New Zealand Introduces Advanced M. bovis Test for More Targeted Animal Treatment

Picture of female vet examining a dog in clinic

New Zealand’s battle against Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) takes a significant turn with the introduction of a new test by Pictor Limited, a NZ-based biotechnology company. This test, expected to revolutionise the approach to tackling the disease, offers a more precise method, potentially allowing for the treatment of individual animals instead of entire herds.

Innovative Testing Solution

The M bovis test, developed and manufactured entirely in New Zealand, stands out for its accuracy and cost-effectiveness compared to existing European tests. Pictor’s Chief Operating Officer, Steve Richardson, emphasises the test’s potential to reduce both financial strain and emotional distress for farmers and taxpayers involved in the M. bovis programme.

Test Validation and Superior Performance

Pictor’s Managing Director, Jamie Platt, reports that the test has undergone extensive validation, including trials on 5000 samples such as bulk tank milk, serum, and individual milk specimens, in both New Zealand and Australia. In comparative studies, the test demonstrated superior analytical performance, particularly in bulk tank milk, which is commonly used for initial screening.

Technical Advancements

The test’s enhanced performance is attributed to the use of three different antigens, each optimised for the most common sample types. Pictor’s Chief Science Officer, Yoichi Furuya, believes this advanced approach could enable the selective elimination of infected animals, reducing the broader impact on herds and cutting down costs associated with control programmes.

Local Production and Launch

Timaru-based South Pacific Sera, co-founded by William Rolleston, is the manufacturing partner for the Pictor PictVetMultiplex ELISA Kit. The kit is being launched in multiple markets, including Australia, the United States, and New Zealand.

Current M. bovis Situation in New Zealand

The introduction of this test coincides with the discovery of new active M. bovis cases in Canterbury. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is managing two active confirmed properties, with depopulation and disinfection measures expected to be completed early this year. The new infected farm, located in the Selwyn district, is adjacent to a previously confirmed property and is believed to be infected with the ST-21 strain, first detected in 2017.

Programme Shift and Future Focus

With the number of infected properties declining, the focus of the M. bovis Programme is shifting towards national surveillance of New Zealand’s cattle herd. OSPRI, a disease-management agency, has recently taken over the disease control and operational functions of the Programme, which continues to be led by its programme partners under a government-industry agreement.

In summary, the new M. bovis test by Pictor Limited represents a significant advancement in New Zealand’s efforts to control and manage the disease, offering a more targeted and efficient approach to safeguarding the country’s cattle industry.