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Published September 13, 2011, 05:37 PM

Montana cattle herd quarantined over disease

BILLINGS, Mont. — Montana livestock officials said Tuesday that a Park County cattle herd has been quarantined after six of the animals tested positive for the disease brucellosis.

By: Matthew Brown, Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — Montana livestock officials said Tuesday that a Park County cattle herd has been quarantined after six of the animals tested positive for the disease brucellosis.

Additional testing on the animals was under way to confirm the disease, said state veterinarian Marty Zaluski.

Brucellosis can cause pregnant animals to miscarry and has been blamed for weight loss and other problems in cattle. If confirmed, it would be the region's 15th infection in livestock since 2004.

Brucellosis was largely eradicated from cattle nationwide last decade after a protracted government effort. It persists in wildlife in and around Yellowstone National Park and in parts of Texas.

Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have required more testing for the disease in recent years, prompting the federal government to stop automatically imposing trade restrictions after multiple infections. The government also no longer requires that infected herds be slaughtered.

Despite officials' efforts to control the disease's spread, tests on elk over the last year revealed a new area of wildlife infections in parts of Montana west of Yellowstone.

The disease is not considered a significant threat to human health.

The latest outbreak would be Montana's fourth case in recent years, including one in November on a bison ranch owned by media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner. The bison remained under quarantine, although testing was under way to lift restrictions on the animals.

Wyoming had two outbreaks last year and one in February. Idaho's last outbreak was in 2009.

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