Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in New Zealand cattle: an assessment of transmission trends using surveillance data.

Abstract

Mycoplasma bovis most likely infected New Zealand cattle in the latter half of 2015. Infection was detected in mid-2017 after which control activities were implemented. An official eradication programme commenced in mid-2018, which is ongoing. We examined farm-level tracing and surveillance data to describe the outbreak, analyse transmission trends and make inference on progress towards eradication. Results indicate that cattle movements were the primary means of spread. Although case farms were distributed throughout both islands of New Zealand, most animal movements off infected farms did not result in newly infected farms, indicating Mycoplasma bovis is not highly transmissible between farms. To describe and analyse outbreak trends, we undertook a standard descriptive outbreak investigation, including construction of an epidemic curve and calculation of estimated dissemination ratios. We then employed three empirical models-a non-linear growth model, time series model and branching process model based on time-varying effective reproduction numbers-to further analyse transmission trends and provide short-term forecasts of farm-level incidence. Our analyses suggest that Mycoplasma bovis transmission in New Zealand has declined and progress towards eradication has been made. Few incident cases were forecast for the period between 8 September and 17 December 2019. To date, no case farms with an estimated infection date assigned to this period have been detected; however, case detection is ongoing, and these results need to be interpreted cautiously considering model validation and other important contextual information on performance of the eradication programme, such as the time between infection, detection and implementation of movement controls on case farms.