Three Central California dairies where bovine tuberculosis (TB) was detected in June are slaughtering or euthanizing 4,800 cows this week, USDA's Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) said today.
"Those that tested positive for TB will be euthanized, while those adults that tested negative for TB but were in the herd will be slaughtered for market,” said APHIS spokesperson Karen Eggert.
Calves in the herds that aren't ready for market will also be euthanized, she said.
"All producers who lost animals in this operation will be provided full indemnity,” Eggert said.
USDA will pay full market value for the animals, she added.
Officials are still trying to determine where or how the disease originated.
A single cow in each of the three herds tested positive for TB in routine inspections, USDA and the California Department of Agriculture reported June 24. All three herds are located in Fresno County, one of eight San Joaquin Valley counties that make up the nation's largest milk shed.
Some16,000 cattle in the area have been quarantined, CDFA spokesman Steve Lyle confirmed today, but he cautioned the number could increase or decrease as TB testing continues.
USDA is in the process of officially downgrading California's bovine TB status to "Modified Accredited Advanced” from "Accredited Free.” USDA and CDFA veterinarians and animal health professionals are helping spearhead efforts to eradicate the disease in California.
CDFA is working to help the state comply with the change in status, Lyle said. Once the change is published in the Federal Register and takes effect, CDFA will assist with detection and quarantine compliance. The downgraded status will require additional testing requirements for California cattle being shipped out of state.
Bovine TB is a serious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium species that usually affects the respiratory system. Animals infected with TB may not show signs for years, and animals that appear healthy may be capable of transmitting infection to other animals.
Read CDFA's June 24 news release on the bovine TB detection at: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=08-044.
Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.