Bovine tuberculosis is a contagious chronic bacterial disease that often doesn’t show signs until it has reached an advanced stage, according to USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services.
The disease is difficult to diagnose with clinical signs alone. In the early stages of bovine TB, clinical signs are not visible. 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.
If you suspect TB in your herd, you should isolate the animal immediately and then call your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis, USDA-APHIS says.
The best way for cattle producers to prevent bovine TB is to maintain a closed herd or isolate and test purchased additions and cattle reentering the herd.
- Maintain accurate records of animal identification and movements.
- Prevent contact with cattle of unknown tuberculosis status.
- Arrange professional diagnostic workup of sick animals.
- Establish a tuberculosis testing policy for employees.