Johne’s Disease: going, going, gone?

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Once a top priority for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Johne’s Disease now is receiving little to no federal funding for prevention and eradication programs. 

So, does this mean the Johne’s problem is solved? Absolutely not, say Pennsylvania State University researchers Ernest Hovingh and Dave Wolfgang. In fact, they say recent research estimates between 82 and 99 percent of all U.S dairy farms have Johne’s-causing bacteria present on the farm. At the same time, progress remains slow in the development of an accurate, affordable diagnostic test or an effective vaccine.

Thus, control and prevention of Johne’s Disease still reside mostly in the management camp. Among the researchers’ suggestions for keeping the disease in check are:

  • Prevent exposure of calves to manure in the calving area
  • Feed colostrum only from cows that have at least one negative Johne’s bacterium test
  • Heat-treat colostrum
  • Do not pool fresh or frozen colostrum from multiple dams
  • Avoid manure contamination of colostrum
  • Feed colostrum replacer in extreme situations
  • If not feeding milk replacer, pasteurize waste milk fed to calves

Read more of the Penn State researchers’ comments on Johne’s Disease.

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