October 2, 2003

 

US Texas Close To Eradicating Cattle Brucellosis

 

Texas animal health officials were disappointed, but not surprised when they detected a cattle herd infected with brucellosis in Henderson County, breaking a 13-month stretch during which no newly infected herds were detected in the state, according to a release from the Animal Health Commission.

 

Texas and Missouri are the only states in the U.S. not free of this bacterial disease, which is detected through testing of blood, milk or tissue from cattle. Although some infected animals exhibit no signs of disease, brucellosis can cause cows to abort, deliver weak calves or produce less milk.

 

"We are closing in on the last infected herds in Texas, and after months of not finding infection, we were hopeful we might have finally eradicated the disease," said Max Coats, deputy director for Animal Health Programs at the TAHC, the state's livestock health regulatory agency, in the release.

 

"With more than 153,000 cattle herds in Texas, finding the last infected herds is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack; We still may find a few more infected herds in Texas before we join the ranks of the other brucellosis-free states in this national disease eradication program.

 

It's been twice since an infected herd has been found in more than a years' span. Neighbouring herds are currently being tested to survey cattle movements to see if the infection has indeed spread."

 

Texas will continue to apply the "tried-and-true" formula for eradicating brucellosis, which involves vaccinating heifers, testing breeding cattle prior to change of ownership and collecting blood samples from cattle at slaughter. Vaccination is now voluntary in most instances, and ranchers may have their accredited veterinarian administer RB-51 vaccine to heifers four to 12 months of age.