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Published April 08, 2010, 10:25 AM

New case of bovine TB found in northeast Nebraska

OMAHA, Neb. — A new case of bovine tuberculosis has been found in northeast Nebraska, and officials said Wednesday that at least seven cattle herds have been quarantined because of it.

By: Josh Funk, Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — A new case of bovine tuberculosis has been found in northeast Nebraska, and officials said Wednesday that at least seven cattle herds have been quarantined because of it.

Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said the new case was uncovered in Cedar County as investigators looked into a separate case in South Dakota’s Yankton County, where the illness was detected in a herd in January.

Meanwhile, no new cases of the disease were found by investigators wrapping up a separate case that began last summer in Rock County.

All the herds that have had contact with the Cedar County herd will be quarantined and tested for the disease, Ibach said. He expected the quarantine to affect eight to 12 herds.

“I don’t believe this new case is indicative of a TB problem in our state,” Ibach said.

Bovine tuberculosis causes severe coughing, fatigue, emaciation and debilitation in cattle and results in reduced milk and meat production. Spread by nose-to-nose contact and the inhalation of bacteria, it usually progresses slowly.

Although rare, humans can catch the disease from contact with infected cattle. Experts agree that as long as meat is properly cooked and milk is pasteurized, there is little danger of bovine tuberculosis spreading through food.

The disease is considered untreatable in cattle. In the past, both infected and uninfected animals were generally slaughtered when bovine tuberculosis was found in a herd. But the practice is changing because the U.S. Department of Agriculture is developing new rules to manage the disease that focus more on containing the illness instead of eradicating it.

Ibach said a separate state investigation into two cases found in a Rock County herd in June has concluded. Nebraska officials tested nearly 22,000 cattle, and a total 61 herds in 20 counties were quarantined at some point during the investigation. But no additional cases of the illness were found.

The testing, which began last year, has cost the state about $800,000 so far, even though federal officials pay for the testing supplies and test processing, Ibach said.

“It’s a very costly procedure,” Ibach said.

Currently, only three herds remain quarantined as part of the Rock County investigation, and those quarantines will be lifted once those cattle head to slaughter. The original herd where the disease was found last year has been released from quarantine.

Ibach said he expects the Cedar County investigation to be smaller than the Rock County one because the herd with the infected cow had less fence-line contact with other herds.

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On the Net: Nebraska Department of Agriculture

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