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Bovine TB confirmed in Oscoda County, Michigan dairy herd

While state, federal agencies are taking significant steps to manage the disease, hunting deer in area is an important tool.

February 8, 2022

3 Min Read
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Michigan State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM, released the following statement due to the discovery of a bovine tuberculosis positive herd in Oscoda County.

"Bovine TB was recently confirmed in an Oscoda County dairy herd, located in Michigan's Modified Accredited Zone. On Jan. 25, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the presence of the disease in one of the animals from this herd.

"As with all findings of bovine TB in a cattle herd, additional testing will be done to ensure the remaining animals are healthy; and if any other infected animals are present, they will be removed.

"An epidemiologic investigation is being conducted to help determine the source of infection and rule out the possibility of additional cases stemming from the affected herd."

Bovine TB is a bacterial disease that can affect all mammals, including humans. It is known to be present in the free-ranging white-tailed deer population of the MAZ, a four-county area (Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda) in northeastern lower Michigan; and the disease can be transmitted between deer and cattle. While state and federal agencies are taking significant steps to manage the disease, the continued hunting of deer in this area is an important tool in maintaining a healthy deer population.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resourcdes, at least 2,800 deer must be submitted for testing in the four core counties, with lower quotas set for the counties listed below, including a 10-mile circle in Emmet county.

Not adding any more burdensome regulations is critical to farmers who raise cattle, said Michigan Farm Bureau Legislative Counsel Andrew Vermeesch.
 
"This is a big deal," he said. "We violated our Memorandum of Understanding of USDA last year because we did not submit enough deer heads for TB testing." 
 
While the COVID-19 pandemic put a hamper on hunting season last year, hitting the required numbers this year would show USDA that Michigan is serious about the issue.
 
"Falling short of the required testing again would send the wrong message to USDA as they reevaluate our current agreement. This could lead to additional testing requirements and restrictions on cattle movement in and out of the state, which would be devastating," Vermeesch added.
 
The message to hunters is clear: take TB testing seriously and submit deer heads. This will not only help with compliance but assist in tracking TB in free range deer so that better management decisions can be made future. 
 
“Since 1994, when Michigan first detected Bovine TB, the state government and livestock producers have spent millions of dollars to combat the disease spread and lower our TB status,” Vermeesch said. 

It's especially important to submit heads for testing because even though a deer might not appear to be infected, it could be carrying TB. 
 
"In most cases, hunters will not see signs that the deer is infected while field dressing it," said DNR Wildlife Health Specialist Emily Sewell. "About 60% of the TB-infected deer tested by the DNR have had no lesions in their body and the lymph nodes in the deer's head were needed to determine the infection."
 
To help in the testing efforts, the Michigan DNR is offering more testing sites — including 24-hour drop boxes — to counties where testing quotas are in place. Hunters should also know that nothing submitted for testing gets returned, so antlers should be removed if they would like to keep them.

The Oscoda County herd is Michigan's 82nd cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB since 1998.

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