Dairy and beef producers in Michigan’s Emmet County learned late last week that two cattle herds there recently tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB). That brings the state’s number of infected herds to 23, and marks the first cattle cases of TB outside the state’s 4-county infected zone in the northeast corner of the Lower Peninsula.

A coyote and two free-ranging white-tailed deer from the county tested positive for the disease prior to these cattle results.

Emmet County is currently classified in the “disease free zone,” a designation created earlier this year as part of Michigan’s TB eradication program. However, it’s expected that the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) director will designate the area as “high risk.” When that happens, producers in the area are required to participate in an annual herd testing for three years.

State-required TB tests are free of charge as long as the veterinary practitioner is certified by and contracted with the MDA. Herd owners in the affected area may call the Atlanta, Mich., MDA office at (888) 565-8626 or their local veterinarian to arrange for testing.

Authorities established three TB eradication zones last March in an attempt to control, then eliminate, bovine TB from the state. And return Michigan to USDA’s disease-free status. Split-state status for counties not affected by bovine TB is an interim step in the process.

The four counties where the disease was first discovered are classified as infected, while the six surrounding counties are classified as the surveillance zone as a buffer around the disease. The state’s remaining 73 counties are classified as disease free, which is where Emmet County currently remains. The zones may only be changed after public comment and a thorough investigation that identifies significant infection risk and disease prevalence in the region.

Officials say they anticipate the required testing to proceed quickly and that this additional disease discovery is not expected to delay the state’s planned application to USDA for split state status.

For more information about bovine TB or Michigan’s eradication program, go to the Web site at: www.bovinetb.com

Michigan Department of Agriculture