State and federal animal health officials have confirmed the detection of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in a dairy herd in Tulare County. Officials are working closely with the dairy farmer and his veterinarian to implement control strategies to eradicate the disease.
The diagnosis of TB was made after a suspicious mass was detected in a cow during routine slaughter inspection. California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) veterinarians, in coordination with their counterparts at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), began testing herds that may have come into contact with the diagnosed cow, and that work led to the detection of TB in the Tulare County herd. The investigation into the possible spread of this gradually debilitating disease is ongoing. California also continues to monitor one dairy herd in San Bernardino County following a bovine TB detection there in 2011. For more information on the history of bovine TB in California, go to: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/pdfs/TB/Bovine_TB_Update.pdf
Bovine tuberculosis does not threaten the quality and safety of milk and meat products in California. Almost all milk sold in California is pasteurized to destroy organisms that could be harmful to humans, including TB organisms. The state’s raw milk dairies are regularly tested for TB. All cattle processed for meat are inspected for signs of TB infection and rejected if they show signs of the disease.
Tuberculosis is a chronic, slow-spreading disease that can remain undetected for years. Infected animals, even those that appear healthy, can spread infection to other animals. The State of California has been involved in TB eradication programs since 1917.
To assist in the eradication of bovine tuberculosis, farmers and ranchers should adhere to animal import regulations, require TB testing of new cattle before purchase, maintain permanent identification of animals, keep records of animal movements into and out of their herd, prevent contact of breeding cattle with cattle of unknown origin, and cooperate with government officials on TB investigations.