Bovine tuberculosis is keeping California Department of Food and Agriculture officials busy. Another case of the disease was detected when a federal meat inspector at a Fresno County meat packing plant discovered a lesion on an animal carcass. Test results confirm that the animal was infected with TB.

At this point, “We’re still trying to determine the place of origin of that animal,” says Steve Lyle, director of public affairs at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. It could be an animal from a California beef or dairy herd, or it could be an animal that was shipped to that packing plant from out of state. The animal was discovered in late September and officials have been trying to trace the animal to its herd of origin since then.

his is the second confirmed case of TB this year in California. Earlier this month Tulare dairy producer Nonning Leyendekker agreed to send his 6,400 head of dairy cattle to slaughter to help protect the state’s TB-free status. Routine testing at the dairy — required because TB was discovered in the herd this spring — revealed another case. In addition, initial test results from a nearby Tulare dairy also came back positive for TB. That 2,000-cow dairy has been quarantined and officials are still waiting for the results from the second test to confirm if that animal does indeed have the disease.

If the second test on the Tulare dairy cow does turn out to be positive, and the animal identified with the disease at the Fresno County packing plant does turn out to be from a California operation, it would be bad news. Two positive tests at the same time would most likely result in California losing its TB-free status.

If California loses its disease-free status, the state would have to institute a mandatory testing program for all breeding cattle sold that leave the state and all feeder cattle would have to be identified by their location of origin.