Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) officials confirmed bovine tuberculosis, also known as TB, in a beef cattle herd in Sutton County on Sept. 3, 2020.
The affected premises was identified as the result of routine slaughter surveillance. The premises has been quarantined and must meet TAHC requirements for testing and removal of infected animals. The commission is conducting an epidemiological investigation to determine the possible origin and to prevent potential disease spread.
“TAHC staff are working closely with the herd owner, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Texas beef industry to ensure the disease is quickly contained and the quarantined premises can return to normal business practices as soon as possible,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, state veterinarian.
Bovine TB is a contagious, chronic disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis. Clinical signs are not visible in early stages of an infection. However, during later stages, clinical signs may include weight loss, anorexia, weakness, low-grade fever, pneumonia with a chronic, moist cough, and enlarged or lesioned lymph nodes.
A variety of other species are susceptible to bovine tuberculosis, including elk, deer, bison, goats, swine, cats, and though rare, sheep and horses. Humans can also be infected with M. bovis TB through ingestion of unpasteurized dairy products like milk and cheese.
People working in close proximity with infected cattle can also be at risk of exposure.
Tuberculosis has a long incubation period (months to years) and was once the most prevalent infectious disease of cattle in the United States. Since establishing the cooperative state and federal eradication program in 1917, the prevalence of bovine TB in cattle herds has been significantly reduced with only occasional occurrences.
“Early bovine tuberculosis detection paired with good animal traceability is critical for effective disease response and eradication,” said Dr. Susan Rollo, state epidemiologist. “Due to robust state and federal cooperative slaughter surveillance programs and the diligent work by Texas’ accredited and regulatory veterinarians, we are able to detect the disease, mitigate
its effects, and protect animal and public health.”