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Indiana State Board of Animal Health

BOAH > Species Information > Cattle, Sheep & Ruminants > Cattle, Dairy & Beef > Bovine Tuberculosis > More FAQs: 2011 TB Infection and Testing More FAQs: 2011 TB Infection and Testing


What is the latest concern with TB in Indiana?

During October and November of 2011, seven beef animals were imported to Indiana from South Dakota. Those animals were later linked to a South Dakota herd that tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. Working with South Dakota animal health officials, BOAH located, identified and quarantined all seven, then began testing the imports, as well as all animals that had contact with the exposed cattle.

Where did the TB come from?

The source of infection for the Dearborn County case (2011) was never definitively identified. The initial TB-positive cow was identified through routine surveillance at a slaughter facility.

No direct links were identified between that case and the positives identified on a cervid herd farm in Franklin County, Ind. in May 2009.

The investigation process (referred to as epidemiology) requires reviewing purchase, sale and breeding records for all cattle operations linked to the index herd in some way, including purchases of animals made several years ago. 

Reconstructing records for operations that are no longer in business can be a challenge and take a long time.  TB is a slow-growing disease, and the animals involved could have been exposed years ago.  The possibility exists that the ultimate source may never be definitively identified. 

What species are susceptible to TB?

Most warm-blooded animals, as well as humans, can get the disease.  Some species, however, are less susceptible, including horses and sheep.

Are DNR and BOAH testing other species?

For the three consecutive years, BOAH has coordinated with DNR to test hunter-harvested wild, white-tailed deer population near the farms in Southeastern Indiana where TB-positive animals were housed.

As a direct result of the positive case three years ago, DNR and BOAH have been working to test hunter-harvested deer in a broad region of Southeastern Indiana. To date, no white-tailed deer have tested positive for the disease. Because this latest investigation is well outside of hunting season, some deer will be taken in a targeted sampling effort in the coming months.

Is Indiana freezer beef safe to eat?

Yes. Beef processed at state- or federally inspected facilities are evaluated for any sign of illness before slaughter. After slaughter, the carcass and internal organs are inspected for any signs of disease, such as tuberculosis, that would make the meat unacceptable for human consumption.

The index herd for the South Dakota imports, like the Dearborn County case, was identified through routine inspection when a cow was sent to a slaughter plant. The information was relayed back to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health for follow up. This finding indicates that the U.S. food safety system works, and consumers can be confident in the meat they purchase.

How long will affected properties be under quarantine? 

The herds with the South Dakota imports will remain under quarantine until all animals exposed are tested for TB. Any herd in which a positive is found will remain under quarantine until the property has met all the requirements set forth by the USDA as part of the federal disease eradication program. 

Is there a vaccine for TB?

No.

Will the bacteria live in the environment, like soil or water?  Can it be tested?

M. bovis likes a moist, cool environment and can survive outside of a body for several days in ideal conditions.  Water is not an environment that will sustain the bacteria.  Sunlight and temperature extremes will kill the organism.  Water run-off is not a source of infection.

Is deer urine a risk to the spreading of TB?

No.  The bacterium is found in saliva and respiratory excretions of the animal and in the lesions or abscesses where the disease resides in the body.

With bovine TB in the Upper portion of Michigan for more than 15 years, why has BOAH and DNR not tested animals before now?

BOAH and DNR have been very concerned about the potential for the spread of TB into the state of Indiana.  That is why, more than 10 years ago, the two agencies began a public education effort to raise awareness of what TB looks like in cervids.  Information has consistently appeared in the Indiana Hunter and Trapper Guide, including guidance for hunters to call for reporting and requesting assistance.  Most processing facilities, meat inspection staff members and taxidermists have been provided with color photo reference cards to help identify signs of the disease, should they handle carcasses that may be infected.  This passive surveillance system results in numerous hunter calls to BOAH each year and some sampling of animals.  To date, none have tested positive.  Hunters statewide are encouraged to contact BOAH to report any unusual appearance of their harvested animals. 

Indiana has had TB testing requirements for several years for all live cervids imported into the state. Likewise, breeding cattle imported into Indiana must have a negative tuberculosis test prior to entry.