Advancing fight against livestock mycobacterial diseases

Thirteen land-grant institutions and partners working to develop and enhance tools to limit spread of Johne's disease and bovine tuberculosis in livestock.

Thirteen land-grant institutions and partner organizations are working across state lines to develop and enhance tools needed to limit the spread of Johne's disease (JD) and bovine tuberculosis complex (TB) in livestock.

JD and TB are two of the most widespread mycobacterial diseases in the U.S. JD alone costs the dairy industry in excess of $200 million per year.

JD and TB cause significant harm to the livestock industry through production losses and trade restrictions. Both infections are chronic, and symptoms occur only in advanced stages of disease, making early detection difficult.

JD-infected cattle suffer from diarrhea, rapid weight loss and decreased milk production, while the symptoms of TB include lethargy, weakness and chronic respiratory issues. Before the development of pasteurization, TB could contaminate an animal's milk and pose a serious risk to human health.

In 2012, researchers formed the Multistate Research Project NE-1201 to fill knowledge gaps, improve diagnostics and vaccines and strengthen outreach programs for both diseases.

"Collaboration among our diverse team of researchers and partners helps ensure that livestock producers and veterinarians have access to accurate, up-to-date information and research about JD and TB," said Gary A. Thompson, administrative advisor of NE-1201 and director of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station.

NE-1201 is conducting critical research to help producers prevent future disease outbreaks and reduce economic losses. With a repository of more than 10,000 bovine blood, milk and fecal samples, NE-1201 researchers contribute to the development of new tests and vaccines that will lessen the incidence and impact of TB and JD. NE-1201 has also established educational programs to help livestock veterinarians and producers take advantage of the latest advances.

NE-1201 is supported, in part, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food & Agriculture.

The participating land-grant institutions include: University of California-Davis, Colorado State University, Cornell University, University of Georgia, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension, Pennsylvania State University, University of Tennessee, University of Vermont and University of Wisconsin.

Visit www.mycobacterialdiseases.org/home.html to learn more about the initiative.

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