The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) confirmed Oct. 30 that a dairy herd in Dane County, Wis., has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB) after meat inspectors identified a carcass during a routine slaughter inspection and sent a sample to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory for testing.
Through animal identification records, the carcass was traced back to a herd in Dane County that DATCP immediately quarantined. A quarantine prevents any animals from moving onto or off of the farm.
“We are working closely with the herd owner, U.S. Department of Agriculture, [Wisconsin's] Department of Health Services, area veterinarians, industry partners and other herd owners. We are taking aggressive measures to control and prevent the spread of this disease,” DATCP acting state veterinarian Dr. Darlene Konkle said. “Our staff and partners train for these types of responses and are taking the necessary steps to protect animal and human health.”
Pasteurized milk continues to be safe to consume. The pasteurization process, which destroys disease-causing organisms in milk by rapidly heating and then cooling the milk, eliminates the disease from milk and milk products, DATCP explained. Bovine TB is most commonly spread to humans through consuming unpasteurized milk or milk products from infected animals, as well as from close contact with infected animals or people. Also, infected people can be a source of infection to animals.
Food safety laws prevent meat from infected animals from entering the food chain, DATCP said. State and federal inspectors at slaughter plants evaluate live animals and animal products for signs or symptoms of disease and remove any from entering food production.
Bovine TB is a respiratory disease of cattle that does not spread easily. It is a chronic, slowly progressive disease, meaning that it can take months to years to worsen, grow or spread, DATCP explained. Infected animals, even if they appear healthy, may pass the infection to other animals. Animals often do not show signs until the infection has reached an advanced stage. The U.S. has nearly eliminated bovine TB due to the National Tuberculosis Eradication Program.
DATCP noted that Wisconsin has been certified as TB-free since 1980, and with a thorough investigation and containment of the outbreak, Wisconsin will maintain its TB-free status with USDA.