from the Texas Animal Health Commission - May 13, 2004
Progress of the Texas Surveillance TB Testing Program
The mandatory testing of dairy herds seems to be on track, but we
have along way to go to get the required number of purebred beef
or seed stock herds tested. The deadline for completion of this
project is still August 31, 2004. The fee basis
money will run out at that time, unless an extension of the cooperative
agreement between the US Depatment of Agriculture and the Texas
Animal Health Commission (TAHC) can be negotiated
The testing of these herds was accepted by the USDA as an alternative
to their imposition of federal export rules, which required the
testing of all sexually intact animals prior leaving the state,
including feeder heifers. Their rules also require that all feeder
steers leaving the state would have to be ear tagged. Texas exports
approximately 1.5 million feeder animals per year, and those stringent
rules, if implemented, would create a tremendous economic and logistical
burden on the cattle industry. Your help is needed to get additional
beef herds tested in your community.
13, 2004 - News Release from the Texas Animal Health Commission
Tuberculosis (TB) Testing Lags;
Could Impact Reinstatement of Texas' TB-Free Status
and purebred beef cattle owners must complete the task that we agreed
to accomplish by stepping forward to have their herds tested for
cattle tuberculosis (TB), if Texas is to regain the Class "Free"
status for TB eradication," warns Dr. Bob Hillman,
Texas's State Veterinarian. As of early May, 349 Texas dairys and
115 purebred beef herds have been tested for the bacterial disease.
While the dairy industry is making significant progress, it still
falls short of the testing necessary to assure the US Deptartment
of Agriculture and other states that Texas has conducted adequate
disease surveillance to find any remaining infected herds. The TB
Plan for Texas, developed in 2002 by a joint industry and regulatory
working group, calls for testing the state's 850+ dairy herds and
at least 2,500 of it's beef seed-stock herds by the end of August
2004. The plan was submitted to the USDA, along with a commitment
to comply with the program.
"The U S Department of Agriculture (USDA) could
deny a bid for Texas to regain its TB-Free status, citing lack of
disease surveillance, if we don't meet our testing objective,"
explains Dr. Bob Hillman, who heads the TAHC, the state's livestock
and poultry regulatory agency. "The USDA is funding
'fee-basis' payments to private, certified veterinarians who conduct
herd testing, eliminating out-of-pocket expense for the cattle owner.
Unless we are granted an extension, this federal money will not
be available after the end of August, so it's crucial that producers
take action to schedule a herd test now."
A Brief History of the TB-Free Status
Since 1983, cattle TB has been detected in 15 Texas dairies
and in 6 purebred beef herds. In 2000, Texas attained the
TB-Free status under the National Tuberculosis Eradication
Program, but lost that status in 2002 after
two infected herds were detected in the state. Dairy
and purebred beef cattle are no more susceptible to TB than commercial
cattle, but they are usually maitained in a herd much longer due
to their value for milking and breeding. Once exposed
to cattle TB bacteria, it may be several years before dairy cows
or purebred cattle are tested, relocated, or culled and sent to
slaughter, where carcasses are examined and disease is detected.
of Herd Testing
"A full-herd test must include all cattle 12 months of age
or older (including any dry cows in dairies). Testing of purchased
replacement animals is optional, but the cost is covered by the
program and should be considered," said Dr. Hillman. "To
conduct a test, the certified or regulatory veterinarian will inject
cattle with a small amount of tuberculin in the skin of the caudal
fold, an area on the underside of the tail. Sevety-two hours later
the veterinarian will visually and manually examine the injection
site for a reaction, such as thickening of the skin. A response
is an indication the animal may have been exposed to TB bacteria."
3-4% of dairy cattle and about 2% of beef animals will respond positively
to the caudal-fold skin test. Until recently, a second 72-hour test
was needed to differentiate between an animal's expsure to cattle
TB bacteria or to avian TB, which is not a danger to herd health.
The recent approval of the Gamma Interferon Test has greatly simplified
this follow-up testing. Now state or federal regulatory personnel
can collect blood samples from 'caudal-fold responder' cattle so
that Gamma Interferon tests can be run at the State-Federal Laboratory
in Austin. Of more than 3,800 Gamma tests run already during the
course of this testing program, only about 0.34 percent cent—or
132—have been in the suspect or reactor range."
also found positive on the Gamma test will be purchased by the USDA
for slaughter and necropsy. Internal organs will be examined for
lesions compatible with TB infection and tissue samples will be
submitted for confirmation to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory
in Aimes, Iowa," said Dr. Hillman. He noted that the USDA's
indemnity is based on the fair market value of the animal. For adult
dairy cattle, agricultural economists have determined the standard
appraisal to be $1,425. Beef animals would be appraised individually
by a certified appraiser. Producers, however, may negotiate for
a higher payment by providing registration papers for registered
cattle and/or production records for dairy cattle. The USDA will
also pay for hauling and disposal or burial of the carcass.
infection in the herd is conformed, the owner has two options. The
entire herd can be quarantined and undergo a series of retests,
until all infected animals have been removed, and subsequent repeated
testings assure that infection has been eliminated. Or, the USDA
will negotiate a purchase price for the entire herd and depopulate
the animals, allowing the owner to return to normal business practices
cattle TB infection must be addressed in Texas—and
in other states where infected herds have been detected.
This currently includes California, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas,
and Michigan. In Texas, we need the support of dairy and beef producers
to find infection; and, if additional infected herds are present,
to prevent further spread of the desease; and regain our ability
to move breeding cattle across state lines without a TB test, "
Dr. Hillman noted. "Allowing cattle TB to gain a 'hoof-hold'
would be extremely costly, in terms of credibility with consumers,
and in our ability to trade freely with interstate and international
Asked Questions (FAQ's)
about Full-Herd TB Testing
How much will this cost me?
The current "fee-based" funding from the USDA
is in effect until August 31, 2004. Herd-testing costs incurred
before that deadline will be eligible for this funding which allows
for "no expense to the cattle owner."
The biggest cost will be your time and energy involved in getting
all animals corraled for the initial injection and then again 72
hours later for the follow-up examination.
2. Can my regular veterinarian perform these tests?
Veterinarians and clinics specializing in "large animal"
care and treatment will have a staff certified to perform TB testing
procedures. If you are raising cattle, you should already have a
good vet's name and phone number written downand inyour truck.
If you don't, it time you found one!
3. Do I have to take all of my cows to the vet's office?
If you have a small herd (5-7 cows) and a large enough
trailer, that might be the best approach. However, with larger numbers
of cattle, your veterinarian will most likely schedule a ranch visit
and can perform the testing procedures there provided you have adequate
facilites to "hold" each animal while the test is done.
Check with you vet about his/her preferences and what's needed to
get the job accomplished.
If I get these tests done once, will my herd be "TB-Free Certified"
from then on?
To maintain your Certified TB-Free Herd status, you will
have to repeat the testing each year. However, if you get the initial
testing done before August 31, 2004, you can take advantage of the
current "fee basis" program and it won't cost you anything
for this year. This full-herd certification will also allow you
to avoid the hassle of getting these tests performed on individual
animals before consigning them to a sale or when selling/transporting
an animal to an out-of-state buyer.