Brucellosis confirmed in Sublette herd
Producer meeting slated for Tuesday evening
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
June 11, 2008
Two commercial beef cows tested positive for brucellosis antibodies today, according to Wyoming State Veterinarian Dr. Walter Cook. Brucellosis is a contagious and incurable disease associated with the reproductive tract of hoofed animals, including cattle, elk and bison in the Yellowstone region.
The cows originated on a Daniel ranch that runs both commercial and purebreds, according to Cook, and were part of a group of 11 that were initially tested for brucellosis as they went through a sale barn. This routine surveillance testing turned up extremely high titers on tests, so the animals were taken to the Wyoming State Vet lab in Laramie, where necropsies were performed today.
One of the cows had a uterine infection and mastitis, Cook noted, both of which are sometimes associated with brucellosis. The black Angus cows appeared to be 4-5 years old and had been vaccinated with the RB51 vaccine as calves.
A series of six separate brucellosis tests were performed and “strong positives” were the result, Cook said. Tissue samples were taken and now lab personnel will attempt to culture the bacteria.
The ranch on which the cattle originated will be quarantined Thursday morning, Cook said. A plan to test cattle will be initiated, Cook said.
“He’ll probably need to depopulate his herd,” Cook said of the producer. As more is learned about the operation, the need for testing nearby or contact herds will be decided as well.
Brucellosis is a stealth disease – it can hide from detection, with an incubation period that can vary from a few weeks to as long as several years. Infected animals are life-long carriers, so infected livestock generally must be destroyed. Long-term quarantine is sometimes an option, but is rarely used for financial reasons.
Wyoming’s brucellosis-free market status should remain in place unless a second infected herd is found, Cook said. Livestock producers should attend a meeting to discuss the brucellosis situation at the Sublette County Library Tuesday, June 17, at 7 p.m. in Pinedale.
Cattle herds in Wyoming were certified brucellosis-free in 1985. The state’s herds retained that classification until February 2004 when it was determined that elk associated with an elk feedground transmitted the disease to a neighboring cattle herd. A few months later, two more infected cattle herds were found. All of the cattle in the infected herds were destroyed.
After intensive surveillance efforts and no further infected animals were found in Wyoming cattle herds, Wyoming regained its brucellosis-free status in 2006.
Check back here on Pinedale Online for frequent updates on this situation.