NDSU Extension - Burke County


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Bovine TB Outbreak

Bovine TB Outbreak

County Agent News
Dan Folske
March 27, 2017 

Bovine TB Outbreak

CowThe recent finding of Bovine Tuberculosis in a Harding County, South Dakota beef cow herd has many producers watching the news carefully and wondering what it might mean to them.  This outbreak comes on the heels of an outbreak in Alberta and Saskatchewan last fall. I both cases cull cows were found to be infected when slaughtered at infected plants. Because this is a reportable disease in both countries and both countries have good documentation and traceability of slaughter animals, officials in both Canada and South Dakota were able to quickly trace the animals back to the ranches from where they came and those herds were quickly quarantined.

Animals in those herds were tested and additional herds were quarantined and have been or are being tested. At the present time no additional herds have been found to be infected in either outbreak.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa has conducted genome analysis of the bacteria found in the Harding County herd and have concluded that the bacterial strain is not related to the bacterial strain found in the Alberta/Saskatchewan outbreak. This is good news to North Dakota producers as it reduces the likelihood that there may be additional herds in thee northern great plains or adjoining provinces.

Because of the quickly implemented quarantines in both instances the bovine TB free status for both provinces and for South Dakota have not been removed. While testing of the adjoining quarantined herds in the Harding County outbreak had not been completed at the time of the last official news release I could find all completed testing outside the originally infected herd have been negative.

The TB free status is important because its loss could have widespread implications with trading partners concerning the export of beef and especially of live animals for slaughter and or for breeding stock.

Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial disease of cattle that occasionally affects other species of mammals. This disease is significant in that it can spread to humans, typically by the inhalation of aerosols or the ingestion of unpasteurized milk. In developed countries, eradication programs have reduced or eliminated tuberculosis in cattle, and human disease is now rare. Bovine tuberculosis is still common in less developed countries, and severe economic losses can occur from livestock deaths, chronic disease and trade restrictions.


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