Published On: Mon, Sep 30th, 2013

Brucellosis confirmed in Montana cow

The Montana Department of Livestock is confirming a case of brucellosis in a Madison County cow, according to a recent press release.

photo Emmett Tullos aka Ravensong75 via Flickr

photo Emmett Tullos aka Ravensong75 via Flickr

State veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski, Montana Department of Livestock, said results of cultures confirming the infection were received earlier today from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

“It’s unfortunate. We obviously don’t like finding brucellosis in our cattle, but the silver lining is that the program we’ve invested so much time and effort in is working,” Zaluski said. “The infected cow was found quickly and didn’t leave the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA).”

The state will not lose its Brucellosis Class Free Status, Zaluski said, as USDA-APHIS’s brucellosis program is currently operating under an interim rule that deemphasizes class status and directs states to focus on surveillance.

The cow was found in a herd of about 1,000 head, which are currently quarantined and undergoing a whole-herd test. In previous brucellosis-affected herds, the rate of infection has been extremely low – around 1 percent, Zaluski said.

“Fact is, we’re finding it, we’re finding it early, and we’re not letting infected animals make it to market,” Zaluski said. “We’ve got a good program that works well for our producers and keeps infected animals from entering interstate commerce.”

Governor Steve Bullock said the state has been aggressive in developing and implementing a “practical and workable” brucellosis plan.

“When brucellosis was found in 2007 for the first time in 22 years, it was a real wake-up call,” Bullock said. “The livestock industry is a vital component of our economy, and as an export state, we had to reassure our trade partners that we’re serious about managing brucellosis and eliminating risks to other states.

“Brucellosis risk management is a collective effort,” he said. “We’ve got everyone involved – the departments of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the state legislature, USDA-APHIS, ranchers and hunters.”

Brucellosis is a contagious disease of animals that also affects humans. The disease is also known as Bang’s Disease. In humans, it’s known as Undulant Fever.

Brucellosis is one of the most serious diseases of livestock, considering the damage done by the infection in animals. Decreased milk production, weight loss, loss of young, infertility, and lameness are some of the affects on animals.

Brucellosis in cattle

The Brucella species are named for their primary hosts: Brucella melitensis is found mostly is goats,sheep and camels, B. abortus is a pathogen of cattle, B. suis is found primarily in swine and B. canis is found in dogs.

There are two common ways people get infected with brucellosis. First, individuals that work with infected animals that have not been vaccinated against brucellosis. This would include farmers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.

They get infected through direct contact or aerosols produced by the infected animal tissue. B. abortus and B. suis are most common.

The second way is through ingesting unpasteurized dairy products. This is seen in people who travel to areas of the Middle East or Latin America (B. melitensis) where brucellosis is endemic in ovine ad bovine animals. “When in Rome” is an attitude many foreign travelers take to experience aspects of a foreign culture.

There have been several cases of domestically acquired brucellosis from people who have eaten Mexican cheese made from unpasteurized goat milk.

In the U.S., brucellosis has decreased over the decades due to vaccination of young animals and the slaughter of the sick ones.

Brucellosis is also an occupational hazard to laboratory workers who inappropriately handle specimens or have an accident or spill. Brucella is highly infectious in the aerosolized form.

If someone gets infected with Brucella, the incubation period is about 2-3 weeks, though it could be months. Fever, night sweats, severe headache and body aches and other non-specific symptoms may occur.

Acute and chronic brucellosis can lead to complications in multiple organ systems. The skeletal, central nervous system, respiratory tract, the liver, heart, gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts can all be affected. Untreated brucellosis has a fatality rate of 5%.

More on Brucellosis

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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