NDA Director Provides Update On Bovine Tuberculosis In Nebraska

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LINCOLN – Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach today provided information on the status of bovine tuberculosis (TB) testing in the state.

The update included details to wrap up the investigation into the June 2009 finding of two TB positive beef cows in a Rock County herd. Ibach also offered information in follow-up to a January announcement regarding NDA’s cooperation with South Dakota officials on the finding of a TB-positive beef cow in that state.

“We are extremely pleased that after extensive testing, we did not find any additional positive cases of TB in association with the Rock County investigation,” Ibach said. “Unfortunately the disease has been found in association with another investigation.

“I don’t believe this new case is indicative of a TB problem in our state,” he said. “I think it is representative of the vast scope of agriculture in Nebraska and the regionalization of the livestock industry. We are a major processor of red meat, and we are one of the largest cattle feeding states. Those factors mean NDA must exercise due diligence regarding disease surveillance and investigations.”

ROCK COUNTY CASE
Ibach said NDA staff, in coordination with federal animal disease officials, tested 21,764 head of cattle in association with the investigation of two TB-positive cows found in a Rock County beef herd last year. A total of 61 herds in 20 counties were quarantined as NDA traced cattle movement into and out of the affected herd and tested cattle that may have shared a fence line with the herd. No additional positive cases of TB were found, and Ibach said only three herds remain under quarantine at this time, with those quarantines to be lifted as those feeder cattle move to slaughter.

In addition, the initial affected herd has been released from quarantine. Ibach said the herd endured a series of tests that are part of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) federal “test-and-remove” strategy. One final whole-herd “assurance test” will be conducted a year from now, he said.

“Obviously, we are pleased with the outcome of this investigation. We appreciate the cooperation we had from area ranchers and others who were impacted,” Ibach said.

SOUTH DAKOTA CASE
NDA began working with South Dakota officials in January after they announced the finding of a TB-positive cow in the southeastern part of that state. Preliminary work to trace cattle movements into and out of the South Dakota herd included a link to Nebraska.

Ibach said today NDA testing based on that epidemiological investigation has led to the finding of a TB-positive cow in a Cedar County beef herd.

“Owners of four northeast Nebraska herds had purchased cattle from the South Dakota herd,” Ibach said. “Three of the four herds tested free of the disease, but the results of the last cow in the last herd to be tested returned as positive for TB.”

Ibach said NDA officials now are in the process of conducting a new epidemiological investigation on the Cedar County herd. The investigation will include tracing the movement of cattle into and out of the herd, as well as locating other herds that may have shared a fence line with the affected herd. It is unknown how many new herds may have to be quarantined for testing, he said, but at this point the scale of the investigation appears to be much smaller than the Rock County investigation.

ONGOING WORK
Ibach said the TB testing and other related disease surveillance work is part of NDA’s ongoing efforts to protect Nebraska’s livestock herds. Such efforts include communication with other states regarding movements of animals, as well as coordination with federal USDA officials and other state agencies.

“Disease surveillance and testing are a part of our day to day tasks. That includes work with not only beef cattle, but also dairies and cervids,” he said. “However the efforts of our staff over the past several months have been far from routine. They’ve worked many extra hours to address the TB emergency in Nebraska in order to protect our valuable livestock industry, and I thank them for their efforts.”

NDA will provide updates on the Cedar County investigation as new information becomes available. General information about bovine TB can be found on the NDA web site at www.agr.ne.gov, under the bovine TB button on the right side of the home page.



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