TUBERCULOSIS REPORTED IN TEXAS CATTLE HERDS
Texas livestock health officials are alerting cattle producers, veterinarians and livestock markets that the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will strip Texas of its "free" status for cattle tuberculosis (TB) eradication on or around June 1. The TB status downgrade will mean that the 150,000 or more breeding cattle hauled out of Texas each year must have a negative tuberculosis skin test prior to being moved. The USDA has placed a moratorium on additional restrictions until at least January 2003, when the state's feeder cattle must be identified with official ear tags before being transported out of state.
"Since late February, we have worked with the USDA and cattle industry groups to prepare for the loss of Texas' TB-free status, which we initially thought would occur as early as April," explained Dr. Linda Logan, Texas' state veterinarian and executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock health regulatory agency. "This loss of status will have a great impact on the Texas livestock industry and, until producers are familiar with the process, it could slow the movement of breeding cattle out of the state."
"The downgrade in TB status comes as a result of the diagnosis and subsequent depopulation of two TB-infected cattle herds during 2001," she said. "Both infected herds were detected by slaughter plant inspectors, who found carcasses with internal lesions indicative of TB."
Dr. Logan said the two infected herds, found in south-central Texas in summer 2001, and in southwest Texas in fall 2001, have been depopulated.
No other infected herds have been detected and veterinary epidemiologists have been unable to pinpoint the source of infection.
"Federal regulations mandate a loss of TB-free status when a state has two or more infected herds disclosed within a 48-month period. Texas will be the only other state without TB-free status except Michigan.
The loss of status will immediately impact producers who move or sell breeding cattle out of state, explained Dr. Logan. Breeding animals are bred heifers, bulls and cows. Since many cattle sold at livestock markets are hauled out of state, producer groups have struggled with logistical problems sure to be encountered when untested animals are presented at livestock markets.