Trich no treat for cattlemen, nor is Bang’s disease
SAN MARCOS -- Ask a cattleman about major concerns, and after drought or feed, you’ll probably hear about disease prevention in cattle and horses, as well as prevention in wildlife populations, to reduce the risk for disease in herds and domestic animals.
Dr. Dee Ellis, state veterinarian with the Texas Animal Health Commission, gave some insight to the diseases that plague today’s cattle industry during the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas annual convention held this past summer.
One disease targeted by state-mandated testing is cattle trichomoniasis or “trich.”
After three years of testing breeding-age bulls for this disease, the trich program has been successful, Ellis said. If numbers are an indication, the testing proved that Texas herds do have the disease.
In January 2012, 61 of the 2,824 samples tested positive. During the period of January through May, 220 of the 14,718 samples tested positive.
Ellis said that use of approved laboratories to pool individually submitted samples (up to five samples) for the testing saves money for producers. One sample costs $100, versus $125 to test a pool of five. (See related article below, left regarding changes from the Texas Animal Health Commission.)
While this testing proved successful, the Texas Animal Health Commission discontinued the cattle brucellosis -- or Bang’s disease -- testing program as of Aug. 1, 2011.
However, testing continues for cattle brucellosis or Bang’s disease prior to slaughter. Vaccination and surveillance of heifers are encouraged.
A problem with false positive testing of swine brucellosis in cattle has been reported in the past. To add to the mix, Ellis said an extra strain has now been found in feral hogs in Starr County that is interactive -- bovine brucellosis detected in hogs. It is important to keep both bovine and porcine (swine) brucellosis under control, since swine brucellosis reactors or suspects have been found in feral hogs.
Texas has fewer Bang’s disease cases than Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, Ellis said. With cattle returning to our state after relocation to the north due to last year’s drought, vaccination is important. Texas will not get rid of brucellosis by surveillance only. We may need to retest the animals entering Texas from these states, Ellis said.
As with Bang’s disease, federal funding for cattle tuberculosis testing is being decreased.
“I have no money [for testing],” Ellis said. He added that four cases have been found in the past three years, with a herd in San Angelo testing positive two years ago.
A national tuberculosis program is being discussed, with responsibility for implementation to fall on the shoulders of the state. More free-status designations are being granted, due to the government relaxing the present rules, Ellis said.
To trace animals in the event of a disease outbreak, a state animal identification program goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013. The Texas Animal Health Commission will provide Brite tags and will partner with auction barns and veterinarians for the distribution of tags. See related article below.
When implemented, the traceability program will allow the animals to move more freely throughout the state, Ellis said. He warned that the Texas Animal Health Commission “may close the state to protect you [the cattlemen]” if an outbreak should occur. These tags are valuable in the event of a tuberculosis, brucellosis, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak for state or federal health officials to find the source of origin.
And there’s more ...
Ellis’ review of diseases was not limited to cattle. He also spoke briefly of equine and cervids regarding disease monitoring.
Equine Piroplasmosis, or EP, was detected in 10 adult horses smuggled into West Texas this past May. This foreign disease, spread by contaminated needles, equipment, or ticks, is a problem in racing quarter horses.
“This situation highlights the ongoing border security problems Texas is facing, which leads to an increased risk of disease introduction for the Texas livestock population when animals enter our state illegally,” Ellis said.
To enter Texas, horses are required to test negative for the disease. Nine cases were identified in 2012, Ellis said.
Ellis also addressed Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, which is more prevalent in northeast Colorado, and affects wildlife. No one wants to consume the meat, Ellis said, although humans will not contract the disease by consuming meat from an infected deer or elk.
CWD, of the same family as BSE, is a threat to fenced cervids, Ellis said. The incubation period is from two to four years. If CWD gets into the soil, the disease can remain dormant in the soil for up to 30 or 40 years.
As of June, the disease had not been detected in Texas. However, positive samples from two mule deer in West Texas were detected in early July. A case also was found in a captive facility in Oklahoma.
For more information on the topics Ellis spoke about, visit the Texas Animal Health Commission website, www.tahc.state.tx.us/.