Bovine TB Confirmed In Cimarron County

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) has been confirmed in a northwestern Oklahoma beef herd.  Dr. Becky Brewer, State Veterinarian for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry said the disease was detected through routine testing.

“We were alerted to the possibility of the presence of the disease when routine slaughter surveillance detected a possible case,” she said.  “We were able to trace the cow in question to a Cimarron County herd which we subsequently tested for TB.  Today we were informed that one additional cow from the herd has tested positive.”

No meat from the TB positive animal entered the food supply.

TB is primarily an economic threat to cattle producers.  States without “TB Free Status” may be required to test cattle before transporting them across some state lines.

Oklahoma has been designated as a “TB Free” state since October 19, 1984, Brewer said.  The presence of one herd with an infected cow will not jeopardize that status.

“We are working very hard to do everything we can to minimize the economic impact of this situation and also to safeguard our state’s beef industry,” she said.  “We will now begin testing herds that border the ranch the TB positive animal came from.”

In the U.S. bovine tuberculosis has been present at very low levels over the years.  Brewer said that during the past few years there has been a slight increase in the TB cases among both dairy and beef cattle.

New Mexico and Colorado are states currently dealing with herds that have tested positive for the disease.

The bacterial disease is caused by Mycobacterium bovis and can spread to other species including humans.  Brewer said the risk to humans is extremely low.

“Most human cases of this form of TB have historically come from drinking un-pasteurized milk,” she said.  “It can also be spread through aerosols or breaks in the skin but this is extremely rare.”

The disease is treatable if humans do in fact contract it.