State officials discuss bovine TB testing circle

INFORMATION: Rick W. Smith, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development bovine TB eradication program coordinator, speaks during an informational meeting on Monday evening with livestock owners and farm owners from Lake and Osceola counties about how a case of bovine tuberculosis from a Lake County farm will impact their herds. (Herald Review photo/Brandon Fountain)

INFORMATION: Rick W. Smith, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development bovine TB eradication program coordinator, speaks during an informational meeting on Monday evening with livestock owners and farm owners from Lake and Osceola counties about how a case of bovine tuberculosis from a Lake County farm will impact their herds. (Herald Review photo/Brandon Fountain)

 

REED CITY — Area livestock owners should not worry too much about the impact on their herds after a cow in Lake County tested positive for bovine tuberculosis earlier this spring.

Officials from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development presented an informational meeting for livestock owners from Osceola and Lake counties on Monday evening at Reed City High School to explained the testing process for cattle and goats located in a three-mile radius around the farm where the infected cow was located.

In April, MDARD announced a 3-year-old cow in Lake County tested positive with bovine TB. MDARD trace tested the cow back to a herd in Franklin County, Ind. The herd tested positive for bovine TB in December 2016.

Led by Rick W. Smith, bovine TB eradication program coordinator, said the three-mile testing circle is the smallest the U.S. Department of Agriculture has for bovine TB.

“We’re doing this out of an abundance of caution,” he said. “We don’t expect to find anything more.”

Smith said genome testing of the strain of bacteria that causes bovine TB has provided officials a “family tree,” making it easier to find where it originated.

“Michigan bovine TB is its own unique bacteria,” he said. “For the first time in 20 years, I can stand up at a meeting and say for certain this strain came from Indiana.”

Whenever there is a positive test in Michigan, Smith said officials can look and past cases and see how they are related to the bacteria.

“If this had been a bovine TB case with a strain from Michigan, we would probably look at a 10-mile radius circle to test.”

Smith explained the testing will include all cattle or bison at least 12 months old, goats at least 6 months old that co-mingle with cattle or bison or any farmed deer 12 months or older. Animals being tested were on the farms on April 26.

“We want to make sure TB hasn’t spread,” he said.

Livestock owners who fall within that three-mile testing circle have received or will receive letters to begin the process of testing, which will be at no cost to farmers.

Smith noted there is no quarantine on herds until testing begins on June 30.

The first phase of testing will include a caudal fold test, where a veterinarian will inject tuberculin into the fold of skin beneath the animal’s tail. Three days later, the veterinarian will return to see if any livestock reacted to the test.

“Don’t be surprised, but there will be about 5 to 7 percent of cattle that will react to the test,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they have TB, they could have avian TB or Johne’s disease.”

At this point in testing, suspect cattle will be tested using a comparative cervical testing, which will distinguish between bovine and avian TB. If further testing is necessary, Smith said officials will remain in contact with livestock owners to determine the next step they wish to take.

Using “abundance of caution” several times throughout the informational meeting, Smith assured livestock owners officials were not expecting to find very many positive test results.

“This particular cow was from an Indiana herd,” he said. “It is a unique strain from Indiana.

“However, it’s necessary, to not only the state, but also nationally, to see that we did have a positive case and we did all the testing we needed to make sure it didn’t spread and that our herds are healthy.”

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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