TB-positive herd found in Alpena County

ALPENA – Another dairy cow herd in Alpena County has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, according to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials.

A cow in a herd sized from 51 to 99 cattle tested as a reactor during routine annual whole-herd testing in September 2012, animal industry division Director James Averill said. It’s the 55th TB-positive found within the state since 1998, when testing began.

Necropsy on the cow revealed lesions like those found with TB, and a laboratory culture result later confirmed the bacterial infection’s presence, Averill said.

“There have been additional animals found at this time (within the herd), some confirmed, and some that are waiting to hear for culture results,” he said.

Cultures can take 6-8 weeks, as bovine TB is a slow-growing bacteria, Averill said.

The department will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 10 at the Wilson Township Hall, 3746 King Settlement Road in Herron, according to a press release. Richard Smith, TB eradication program director, will attend and talk about the disease and what’s been found at the farm thus far.

The original test was done on Sept. 25, Smith said. Three days later, secondary tests were done on suspect cows, turning up four reactors overall. All four were sent to a lab for further tests, with one proving to be infected.

Currently, the farm where the infected herd was found is in quarantine, with no animals to leave or enter the farm, Averill said. It’s located in an area where TB-positive herds have been found before, and where deer carrying the disease also are known to roam. The farm had not been previously found to have TB-positive cattle, and does not have a wildlife risk mitigation plan in place.

Milk from the farm can still be sold during quarantine, Averill said, adding pasteurization would kill any TB bacteria if it were present in the milk.

The herd’s owners have started a test-and-removal process, with MDARD testing every 60 days for a period of time, Averill said. One more test will be done six months after the last to assure the herd is TB-free.

Since the infection was discovered, veterinarians, biologists and dairy scientists have visited the farm to try to determine how the outbreak occurred, Smith said. They’ll be putting together their findings in the next month or so.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.