California detects more bovine tuberculosis in dairy herds

June 23, 2008 07:00 PM

Bovine tuberculosis has been detected in two more dairy herds in California's Fresno County, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed today.


A single cow in each of these two additional herds was confirmed positive, bringing the current total number of herds affected to three. USDA is beginning the process to officially downgrade California's bovine tuberculosis status from "Accredited Free” to "Modified Accredited Advanced,” according to a CDFA news release.

CDFA and USDA personnel continue to spearhead the effort to eradicate bovine tuberculosis from California's cattle, the release said. CDFA and USDA veterinarians and animal health professionals from across the state and nation are helping with the effort.

Fresno County sits in the heart of California's Central Valley, home to the majority of the state's dairy herds. Tulare County, the state's dairy leader, is located directly south of Fresno County.

Since bovine tuberculosis was first detected in January 2008, more than 105 herds and over 150,000 cattle have been tested as part of the investigation.

The drop in status is required by the USDA's Code of Federal Regulations following the detection of two affected herds within 48 months. It will impose additional testing requirements on California's cattle industry when shipping animals out of state. 

CDFA animal disease control experts are working with USDA to evaluate dividing California so that part of the state could return to a "TB Free” status while intensive disease eradication efforts continue in the affected area of California.

California regained its Bovine Tuberculosis Accredited-Free status on April 15, 2005, two years after losing its status due to an outbreak in Kings and Tulare counties. Following the detection of bovine tuberculosis in 2003, more than 876,000 cattle from 688 herds were tested in California to make sure the disease had not spread beyond the three detected dairy herds. New rules were also put in place requiring that dairy breeding cattle entering California be tested to help prevent reintroduction of the disease. These rules remain in effect.

Bovine tuberculosis does not threaten the quality and safety of milk and meat products produced in California, CDFA said. Almost all milk sold in California is pasteurized, which destroys organisms that could be harmful to humans, including tuberculosis organisms. The state's two raw milk dairies are regularly tested for tuberculosis. All cattle processed for meat are inspected for signs of tuberculosis infection and rejected for consumption if they show signs of the disease.


Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at


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