LANSING, Mich. — An Ottawa County roping cattle herd has been depopulated after two animals sent to slaughter were found to be infected with bovine tuberculosis (TB), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced last week.
According to State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill, the animals originated from an infected herd in Indiana, where bovine TB was identified in 2016.
“Indiana officials found TB in 2016 in two different cattle herds there,” he said. “Their investigation did lead to some cattle movements into Michigan.”
Averill said subsequent investigation in Michigan led to finding an affected herd in Lake County last year. He said there weren’t adequate records to determine where every animal went that was sold from the Indiana herd.
He said when bovine TB is identified, the infected herd is either depopulated or a rigorous test and removal process is initiated. “In this instance, we made the decision to depopulate the herd to find out truly what was going on in that herd, and we found more animals to be infected.”
“Every time a bovine tuberculosis animal is identified at a processing plant, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development work to track where the animal has traveled,” said Dr. Jarold Goodrich, acting assistant state veterinarian.
“In Michigan, all cattle moving off any farm or property must have a radio-frequency identification ear tag that begins with 840 to ensure animals can be traced during a disease emergency. Additionally, there are identification and health certificate requirements for cattle moving to Michigan farms from other states.”
In 2016, Indiana officials identified two beef herds and one whitetail deer as bovine TB-positive, all in Franklin County. Currently, Indiana is one of six states – along with Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Michigan – with infected herds. (As reported last week, Indiana officials are doing follow-up tests in the Franklin County area.)
This is the first instance of bovine TB identified in Michigan this year. The disease reemerged in Michigan in 1994 when a whitetail deer in Alpena County was found to be infected. The first case was found in a Michigan cattle herd in 1998. To date, 71 herds have been infected, as well as cattle in five feedlots in the state.
Averill said when bovine TB is found outside the state's modified accredited TB zone in northeastern Michigan, a circle ranging from 3-10 miles in radius is placed around the location of the affected herd, and all cervid herds in that area are tested for the disease.
“We’re doing a three-mile circle of this farm,” Averill said. “We don't think the disease is out on the landscape, but we want to do our due diligence and make sure it isn’t. We believe it has been isolated to this farm, based on our ongoing investigation.”
All farms within this special surveillance area will have six months to complete bovine TB testing. These farms will be identified by MDARD and notified through individual letters. Averill said it’s important to note that the type of TB found in the Ottawa County herd is not the Michigan strain, and that there are no food safety concerns.
An informational meeting to discuss this finding of bovine TB and the surveillance area will be March 6 at 7 p.m. in the Grandville Public Middle School Auditorium, 3535 Wilson Ave. SW, in Grandville.
“We will give a refresher on what bovine TB is and explain why we do what we do,” Averill said. “We'll also get into more of the specifics of this actual finding, what we’re going to be doing and why we’re in the community.”