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Serving: IN

State Vet Clarifies Tuberculosis Situation in Indiana

Premise ID helps track key players in this drama.

Indiana was declared a tuberculosis-free state for cattle in 1984, nearly 25 years ago. All remained quiet and that issue drifted into the background, perhaps beyond the radar screen of the younger generation of cattle producers within Indiana. Nearly 25 years is nearly a generation ago.

Than last fall a case of bovine tuberculosis that was detected at a slaughter plant in Pennsylvania was eventually traced back to a small farm in Indiana. The entire herd was tested, and all animals in the herd tested negative for tuberculosis. Still, Bret Marsh, state veterinarian in charge of the Indiana Board of Animal Health, pledges his staff will continue working to determine the actual cause of that case of tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, Marsh stepped back far enough from the heat of tracking the cause of this TB case to make an astute observation. The reason his staff was able to locate the herd in questions so easily was thanks to premise ID. This practice was instituted just a couple of years ago as part of the move to begin the National Animal Identification program.

Thanks to premise ID, the staff didn't have to hit the pavement on what might have resembled a wild goose chase, driving roads, trying to track down the contact information for the herd that they needed. Instead, they were able to follow a paper trial that led to their destination. The paper trial was created thanks to the premise ID program.

Although premise ID is mandatory, it's believed that not all farms with livestock still have a premise ID number. That's why Marsh used this opportunity to stress the importance of complying. It simply makes it quicker to act when a disease outbreak threatens, he notes. Quick action can mean a safer and healthier environment for animal agriculture in Indiana, Marsh notes.

California, Michigan and Minnesota are also battling tuberculosis cases at the current time. North Dakota officials also announced in December that they are tracking a case which apparently leads to their state.

This incident has given BOAK a reason to examine what has worked and hasn't worked in its strategy to control and eliminate tuberculosis in this animal species, Marsh adds. After reviewing their performance so far, the hope is that they will be able to put together a plan for Indiana that is the best possible course of action to help keep tuberculosis out of the state, Marsh concludes.

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