Bovine TB Found in Kentucky

May 26, 2010 07:00 PM

Beef Today Editors 

Two beef cattle in a Fleming County, Ky., herd have tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, according to Kentucky State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout.

Authorities are waiting on the results of tests on a third animal, which could take up to 10 weeks, Stout said. The three animals did not enter the food supply, he said.

The disease was discovered when a cow from the farm was slaughtered in a Pennsylvania plant and tested positive, according to Stout. The rest of the herd was tested, and two other cattle were suspected of having the disease. The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchased the two animals and had them slaughtered and necropsies performed. One had a suspicious lesion and tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

The herd on the index farm has been quarantined, Stout said. The remaining cattle in the herd have tested negative. Officials with USDA and the Kentucky state veterinarian's office will test cattle on farms adjacent to the index farm as well as three other associated herds and farms adjacent to those, he said.

USDA has classified Kentucky as free of bovine tuberculosis since 1987. The state's status likely would not change if no other animals test positive for the disease in the next six months, Stout said, although individual states could require cattle coming into their states from Kentucky to be tested.

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial disease that primarily affects cattle, but it can be transmitted to humans and other warm-blooded animals. It is difficult to diagnose because it often doesn't show signs until it has reached an advanced stage. In later stages, clinical signs may include: emaciation, lethargy, weakness, anorexia, low-grade fever, and pneumonia with a chronic, moist cough. Lymph node enlargement may also be present.

It can be passed to a herd by infected cattle, cervids (such as deer and elk), swine and humans. It can be spread through the air, at feed and watering sites or by drinking raw, unpasteurized milk from infected animals. The risk of exposure is greatest in enclosed areas, such as barns with poor ventilation.

Source: Kentucky Department of Agriculture

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