TB Found In North Dakota Dairy Heifer

State and federal veterinarians launch an investigation to determine the source and to prevent its spread.

Published on: Dec 12, 2013

State and federal veterinarians are investigating a case of bovine tuberculosis in a young, non-lactating heifer from an Oliver County, N.D., dairy herd.

Susan Keller, North Dakota state veterinarian, says the case was found when the owner agreed to have the herd tested after an employee on the dairy tested positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.  

"U.S. Veterinary Service Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the TB diagnosis in the heifer." Keller says. "The heifer had never produced milk, and in any case, routine pasteurization would prevent any contamination of the milk supply."

Tuberculosis is a zoonotic disease and can be transmitted from animals to humans and from humans to animals.

TB Found In North Dakota Dairy Heifer
TB Found In North Dakota Dairy Heifer

"An epidemiologic investigation is now underway, and further testing will be done to determine the source of the disease and to prevent its spread," Keller says. "Both the herd owner and the employee are fully cooperating in the investigation."

Keller says the state veterinarians are working with USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services and the North Dakota Department of Health in the investigation and testing.

Bovine Tuberculosis is a chronic, highly infectious disease of cattle caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The bacterium can cause disease in other domestic or wild animals and also in humans.

Causes of infection in cattle include:

  • Breathing air contaminated by already infected animals;
  • Consuming contaminated food or water;
  • Movement of animals and contact with infected animals e.g. across fences;
  • The use of dirty trucks to transport animals;
  • Contact with infected wildlife.

For more information about TB in cattle, click here.

For information on how to protect your livestock from TB, click here.

Source: ND Department of Agriculture.