If you own cattle in Michigan, two of the worst words to hear are TB-positive. In March, bovine TB was discovered in a 100-plus head Saginaw dairy farm. Lesions, which are indicative of the infection, were discovered at slaughter.
Any farm that's designed TB-positive is a concern, but it becomes extraordinary when it's outside of what's considered the TB core area of northeast Lower Michigan. Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't end there. On May 3, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced that deacon calves purchased from the TB-positive Saginaw County farm (now referred to as the index farm), and traced to two small beef farms in Midland and Gratiot Counties, are also TB positive.
Two infected animals were removed from the Gratiot herd and one from the Midland herd.
All these herds are now quarantined and MDARD has established a 10-mile radius around each positive farm where all cattle herds will need to be tested with a goal of getting it done in six months. The department has also started traces from all the farms.
I had lots of questions for MDARD staff, but they had few answers at this point, saying it could not discuss specifics that might interfere with the investigation.
Regardless, this situation could be very bad news for cattle and dairy producers in the current TB-Free zone in Lower Michigan. It's unclear if this discovery will result in a downgrade in status. MDARD has asked USDA Veterinary Services to allow the state to conduct its disease investigation, get things under control, and after it's over, will sit down to discuss status issues.
Depending on what USDA comes back with, we may be looking at whole herd testing, again, for much of the state. Animals have been traced out of state, TB status unknown, to Ohio and Indiana. It is unclear as to how those states will react.