The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has quarantined additional herds as it continues to trace the locations of cattle involved in the ongoing bovine tuberculosis (TB) case. Agriculture Director Greg Ibach announced that 42 herds have been quarantined as part of the epidemiological investigation (including the infected herd), up from 32 herds announced late last week.
"The increase in quarantined herds is not unexpected as we continue to identify cattle that had the opportunity for contact with the TB-infected herd through fence line exposure," Ibach said. "We also are reviewing the records of sales made from the TB-infected herd over the past two years, so additional quarantines may occur.
"This is all part of a responsible, thorough epidemiological investigation. This foundation is critical to determining the scope of the problem and moving aggressively to address it," Ibach said. "That said, I want to emphasize that these quarantines do not represent assured exposure to TB. Just because a fence line is shared, does not mean the two herds necessarily had contact.
"It's important to remember that at this time, only one herd has had animals test positive for TB."
NDA announced on June 1, 2009, that a cow from a Rock County beef herd had tested positive for bovine TB. The herd remains under quarantine. A second cow from that herd later also tested positive for the disease. The epidemiological investigation involves locating any cattle that may have been pastured next to the infected herd during the past two years, as well as tracing cattle movement into and out of the herd during that time frame.
In addition to Rock, Holt, Loup, Boyd, and Brown counties, quarantined herds have also now been identified in Cedar, Colfax, Gage, Keya Paha, and Pierce counties. Ibach said these counties were added based on cattle sales records from a fence line herd prior to the quarantine.
Animal health officials in Colorado and South Dakota also have been alerted to herds in their states which received animals from Nebraska herds prior to those herds being quarantined.
Ibach said while the epidemiological investigation continues, NDA began to focus Monday on testing the quarantined herds for TB. Two teams, made up of NDA and U.S Department of Agriculture officials, are conducting the testing. All quarantined cattle over 12 months of age will be tested. At this point, the number of animals to be tested totals approximately 15,000.
"We are pulling together all the resources we have at our disposal to address this situation," Ibach said. "The beef industry is a cornerstone in our state's agricultural foundation, so we recognize the importance of handling this matter efficiently and effectively for our state and region."
For further information on bovine TB, visit the NDA web site at www.agr.ne.gov.