USDA grants Nebraska producers an extension of their TB status
Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach last week announced the numbers for the sixth week of testing in the ongoing bovine tuberculosis (TB) case. All TB test results have been negative on the approximately 8,800 head of cattle tested between June 15 and July 19. Approximately 100 head of cattle were tested last week, with those results pending, for a total of approximately 8,900 animals tested.
“The continued cooperation of the producers with quarantined herds has been a tremendous asset to our staff as we continue the testing process,” said Ibach.
“The number of animals tested thus far represents over one half of the animals scheduled to be tested at this time. The testing has been expedited by the assistance of USDA personnel, and we appreciate their and our staffs continued efforts. We ask for the continued patience, communication and cooperation we’ve experienced thus far as we work to test the remaining animals.”
Ibach also highlighted the results of his request to US- DA to maintain Nebraska’s TB free classification as the epidemiological investigation continues. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services typically allows 90 days after confirmation of a TB finding before it makes a disease status determination.
USDA granted an extension in a July 16 letter to Ibach. The extension allows Nebraska to maintain its TB-free status while testing progresses.
“This extension is good news for Nebraska’s cattle industry,” said Ibach. “It will allow our staff to complete more testing prior to the USDA’s decision on whether Nebraska’s TB status will change. We are cautiously optimistic that test results will continue to be negative and that USDA will provide the funding to depopulate the initial affected herd. These are needed steps for Nebraska to maintain its TB-free status.”
“Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) is very appreciative of USDA’s extension which allows us to continue moving forward,” NC Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey said. He added, “Nebraska’s TB-free status is crucial, and we are cautiously optimistic of retaining our status based upon preliminary testing results and the overall positive nature of the testing procedure. Producers and NDA are working well together to navigate through a tense and difficult time.” Also updated last week were the number of quarantined herds and the counties in which those herds are located. As of July 27, 22 herds are quarantined in 14 Nebraska counties. The counties include Antelope, Blaine, Boyd, Brown, Buffalo, Cedar, Cherry, Colfax, Dundy, Holt, Loup, Nance, Pierce and Rock. NDA staff continues the epidemiological investigation which currently is focused on researching sales records of the TBinfected herd, as well as testing quarantined herds.
Ibach said for the remainder of the summer, NDA will have a flexible testing schedule that may include smaller numbers of animals tested each week. Some weeks, no animals may be tested.
“We are working closely with the owners of the quarantined herds,” Ibach said. “Some owners have chosen to keep their herds under quarantine until early this fall when they move the animals off pasture. We are also being cognizant of the effects of heat stress and early pregnancy on the animals that need to be tested.
“We plan to continue working with the owners of the quarantined herds to test their animals on a schedule that fits their needs but also protects nonexposed animals from potential exposure.”
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, as well as tracing cattle movement into and out of the herd. NDA will continue to update test result information, counties with herds that are quarantined, and other relevant TB information on its website at www. agr.ne.gov under the bovine TB button on the right side of the home page. — WLJ