Montana Department of Livestock announces new brucellosis case, class-free status lost |

Montana Department of Livestock announces new brucellosis case, class-free status lost

Helena, MT – The Montana Department of Livestock announced June 9 that a cow in Paradise Valley has tested positive for brucellosis.

State veterinarian Marty Zaluski said the loss of brucellosis free status is particularly frustrating given efforts by livestock producers and the industry to mitigate risks and increase disease surveillance.

“Montana has been following the Interagency Bison Management Plan,” Zaluski said. “Producers in the Paradise Valley have been involved and diligent, and they have taken it upon themselves to be proactive in regard to managing the risk of brucellosis transmission. In this particular case, the owner did everything right. The cow had been vaccinated twice and was part of a herd management plan.”

All other animals in the herd where the positive was found have tested negative for brucellosis. Herds with links to the herd where the infected cow was found will be placed under quarantine unless, or until, they are whole-herd tested.

Zaluski said federal indemnity funds are available for depopulation, should it become necessary.

This marks the second brucellosis case in Montana in just over a year. The first case occurred in May of 2007 when the disease was discovered in a herd near Bridger. The entire herd, totaling nearly 600 cows and calves, was depopulated to maintain Montana’s class-free status. Under USDA APHIS rules, a state may have only one positive herd in any two-year period to remain brucellosis class-free. Montana’s status will be downgraded to Class A in four to eight weeks and the state will be able to apply for class-free status on May 27, 2009.

“Our industry has anticipated the risk in that area and has responded by aggressively stepping up our disease surveillance through producer-initiated herd plans,” said Errol Rice, MSGA’s Executive Vice President. “This assured that if we had a breakthrough of the disease, we would be able to find it, neutralize it and prevent further spread.”

The downgrade to Class A status for brucellosis will mean that Montana’s livestock producers will now be required to test bulls and non-spayed females, 18 months of age or older, 30 days prior to interstate movement.

Other states may institute additional restrictions.

USDA APHIS will immediately begin its investigation into this latest incident and begin working to uncover the source of the disease. No source was found for the brucellosis discovered in the Bridger herd last year, though elk were suspected. In recent years, Idaho and Wyoming have lost and regained their brucellosis class-free statuses due to breakthroughs from elk to cattle.

“It is going to be a hard road, but we’ll get through it just as Idaho and Wyoming did,” Rice said.