From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 38 - December 18, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Second herd tests clean

by Cat Urbigkit

Test results received last Thursday afternoon revealed no brucellosis reactors in a second Sublette County cattle herd, state officials reported.

More than 600 head of the Arambel family's herd of horned Hereford cattle were subject to blood testing earlier in the week, with the results indicating the herd is free of the disease that was recently detected in another area herd.

Lara Azar, Governor Dave Freudenthal's press secretary, confirmed Friday afternoon that the contact herd had been tested and the test results "came up negative."

Herd owner Pete Arambel was heartened to hear the news.

"In the short-term, it's a wonderful thing, and I hope that everybody bleeds clean, but in the long run, the problem still exists and it's not going away," Arambel said. "We need to find the source of the disease."

"Where does it come from and where does it end?" Arambel questioned. "I want to know where the source of the disease really is."

The infected herd belongs to the Don "Doc" Jensen family and is located in the Boulder area, resides on private property adjacent to a state-operated elk feedground. When elk using the Muddy Creek feedground were last tested in 1997, Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials detected a 29-percent brucellosis seroprevalence rate.

Azar said that the 29 reactor animals in the infected cattle herd have had a second set of blood samples drawn, with those sample already sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

Although federal and state animal health officials had already taken initial blood samples on Dec. 2, criticism arose over the protocol used in obtaining the samples, so a second blood samples was taken from all the reactor cattle.

The test results from the infected herd aren't expected for about a week. It is these samples that will form the basis for the official federal declaration of infected status from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Once this federal declaration is made, the state has 60 days to test all contact herds and ensure that no others are affected with the disease. At stake is Wyoming's brucellosis-free status, which allows the free movement of cattle to market.

In addition, numerous other cattle producers in the area have agreed to have their herds tested for the disease as well, with that work already being undertaken.

While much attention has been focused on the health of local cattle herds, Wyoming State Veterinarian Dr. Jim Logan issued a reminder to the community to provide added consideration to the owners of the infected herd.

"In the midst of the brucellosis issue in Sublette County, there is a very important human issue that we all must remember. The herd owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jensen, are undoubtedly under a great degree of shock and stress because of the finding of brucellosis in their herd," Logan said.

"It is not the fault of the Jensens that brucellosis has infected their herd. Records show that they have vaccinated against the disease for many years, as have all the ranchers in that area."

Logan asked for the public to put themselves in the Jensens' shoes: "Please consider the emotional impact that this would have on a herd owner, as well as the loss of a lifetime of work developing herd genetics ... things that can't really be measured in financial terms."

Logan said, "This is a malady that potentially could beset any rancher in Wyoming and we need to offer our help, support, and compassion for this family to help them through this very difficult situation."

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