The possibility of humans contracting Mycoplasma bovis by eating meat or drinking milk from infected cattle has been ruled out by food security experts as "low risk".
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the disease was not a food safety risk. There have been concerns about the slaughter of 152,000 head of cattle and whether their meat or milk could threaten human health.
"There is no problem with eating beef or drinking milk from infected herds." This disease is in any other nation and agricultural town, and they have been consuming beef products with Mycoplasma bovis for decades, "MPI said.
He added that M. bovis did not survive pasteurization, and since most of New Zealand's milk is pasteurized, it would exist only in raw milk.
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Focused especially on a 2004 paper written by UK specialists DG Pitcher and R.A.J. Nicholas, who considered the possibility that the mycoplasmas of animals cross with humans. There are more than 100 mycoplasmas, of which Mycoplasma bovis is only one.
The authors found that there had been only two cases of people infected with M. bovis. Animal mycoplasmas (not only M. bovis) have been found in humans whose immune systems were compromised more frequently, though not always.
"While it is true that such patients are susceptible to a wide range of microbial infections, it is well established that patients with hypogammaglobulinemia or who are receiving immunosuppressive drugs have a particular susceptibility to mycoplasma infections."
They observed the 1979 case of an American woman in whom M. bovis was isolated in the throat. She was already suffering from bronchopneumonia and central nervous system abnormalities.
His only contact with cattle was that he had been exposed to cow dung during gardening three weeks before developing symptoms. The disease decreased after therapy with tetracycline (an antibiotic).
In the other case of infection with M. bovis, the Ministry of Health observed that there were "few" details and again the person had responded to treatment with tetracycline.
Professor Nigel French, director of the Center for Science and Research on Food Safety of New Zealand at Massey University, said that other diseases such as campylobacter and salmonella were much more worrisome.
"I think that people with poor immune systems may be prone to infections that people with may not have effective immune systems." There is so little evidence that Mycoplasma bovis is important as a source of human infection, particularly through the food chain.
"It's one of those examples of something that is so unlikely to happen, that I do not think there's cause for concern. "