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Expert Panel Defines the Need to Harmonize Trichomoniasis Regulation and Testing Procedures

November 19, 2013

Source: Life Technologies Corporation

Life Technologies Corporation assembled a cross-section of industry stakeholder experts to discuss with state veterinarians the need for consensus on standardization of regulations and diagnostic laboratory testing methodology for trichomoniasis (trich) at the 2013 USAHA Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease in cattle with significant economic consequences to beef producers resulting from infertility and embryonic loss in cows and heifers. Bulls are the carrier of this disease but show no outward signs of infection. There’s no treatment for infected bulls, so diagnostic testing of bulls before exposure to females plays a crucial role in managing trich.

To control trich within and across state lines, states have regulations to help producers and veterinarians comply with health requirements. Unfortunately, there’s wide variation in these defined regulations and testing procedures among states, which causes confusion, additional handling of animals, and varying diagnostic test results, according to Jeff Baxter, Senior Product Manager, Life Technologies.

"Finding common ground on the harmonization of trich regulations and testing procedures would help beef producers economically by eliminating repeated or unnecessary testing and reducing the danger to animals and handlers," said Baxter. "The primary goal of our conversations with state veterinarians is to build confidence with all stakeholders that the best diagnostic testing technology is being used to accurately identify trich-positive bulls. Defining the need for regulation harmonization and testing is the first point of clarity in this conversation accomplished in hosting this event. The next step is to find common ground with those states open to building consensus on points of agreement. Working closely with state veterinarians, cattlemen’s associations, and their respective state diagnostic labs can help us arrive at solutions based on sound science that economically benefit beef producers."

NCBA advocating for regulation harmonization

Kathy Simmons, DVM, chief veterinarian of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), said the association’s membership has directed the leadership to help facilitate the harmonization of trich regulations between states. She said NCBA recently compiled information on the various state trich regulations determining 50 percent (25 states) have regulations.

Simmons said these varying and ever-changing rules between states make compliance difficult for veterinarians and producers, who often plan cattle testing and movement in advance.

"Harmonized state trich regulations for the interstate movement of cattle would facilitate cattle movement at the speed of commerce," Dr. Simmons said. "Well-defined, thoughtful and mutually accepted testing procedures for trich between adjoining states could eliminate redundant testing procedures and reduce the danger to animals and handlers from repeated or unnecessary testing."

According to Baxter, individual state trich regulations often define which testing procedures are accepted. Most states accept culture or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results. Typically testing is done either by collecting up to three cultures during a three-week period or by providing a single culture for real-time PCR testing.

"Certainly, conducting one real-time PCR test as opposed to collecting three cultures is easier, less invasive and less dangerous for the animal and handler," added Baxter. All 25 states with trich regulations have validated the use of PCR as an officially accepted diagnostic test. Because of better technology improvements in the overall laboratory workflow, some states have taken the next step in defining PCR as the only official test allowed for compliance.

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