‘No Silver Bullet’ for Brucellosis
Brucellosis Task Force Report to Governor
January 24, 2005
The Wyoming Brucellosis Coordination Team (BCT) delivered their report and recommendations to Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal earlier this month. That report is now available online as a printable PDF document. The Team is composed of 19 members, plus ten technical advisors. The 37-page report is available on the web at: http://gf.state.wy.us/downloads/pdf/brucellosisrpt2.pdf
The BCT was charged with identifying issues, describing best management practices, and developing recommendations related to brucellosis in wildlife and livestock in the state of Wyoming. The group was asked to provide recommendations that detail actions, responsibilities, and timetables where appropriate.
Four topics are addressed in the report:
1. Reclaiming Class-Free brucellosis status for cattle, surveillance, and transmission between species;
2. Developing an Action Plan of what to do in the event of a new case in cattle;
3. Addressing human health concerns;
4. Reducing, and eventually eliminating, brucellosis in wildlife, specifically addressing winter elk feed grounds.
The BCT came up with 28 recommendations for the Governor and Wyoming State Legislature to consider. In the report, the team pointed out that brucellosis has been virtually eradicated from the United States cattle herd. Wyoming, they wrote, is at special risk due to a large reservoir of brucellosis-infected wildlife. The disease remains widespread and common in elk and wild bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA). "Wyoming’s cattle herd is at risk of contracting brucellosis from the wildlife in the region," the report stated.
"It is estimated that the Jackson Bison Herd has a prevalence of 50 to 80% and may be considered a reservoir for contamination for elk to cattle," according to the report.
Brucellosis is a major concern to the cattle industry due to the severe economic losses cattle producers experience. "Managing this disease is not straightforward. Vaccines used to help prevent brucellosis are imperfect for cattle, and even less effective in elk and bison," the report stated.
"There is no ‘magic bullet’ solution" the BCT pointed out. The solution to the issues and the disease will be multi-faceted. Funding must be allocated towards finding solutions to the problem, and support for research is essential. The team pointed out that the cattle industry has virtually eliminated brucellosis in the country’s cattle population. Now the long-term goal of the eradication focus must be placed on elimination of the disease in wildlife managed by the federal government, the report concluded.