From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 19 - August 5, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Brucellosis detected in Campbell County:
1,500 head of cattle in six herds under quarantine
by Cat Urbigkit

More than 300 head of Sublette County cattle were destroyed in January after brucellosis was detected in the herd, and earlier this week 104 head of cattle from a Teton County herd met the same fate for the same reason.

Now at least one livestock producer in Campbell County is faced with the same gut-wrenching decision to destroy his 300-head cattle herd because two of 50 head sent to a South Dakota sale barn tested positive for brucellosis. That positive test in the two aged cows led to their slaughter for the harvest of tissue samples which proved conclusively that the animals harbored the disease.

Wyoming State Veterinarian Dr. Jim Logan announced the test results at a teleconference on Monday afternoon, but in his now-familiar cautious manner, explained that the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has not yet officially declared the Campbell County herd to be infected.

"We are trying to be very conservative," Logan said, in following proper procedures in an exact manner, because once the infected designation is declared, "it's pretty much a dead-end road with no turning around."

While South Dakota officials began traceback work to locate and test the other 48 head of cattle from the same herd that had gone through the sale barn at the same time as the reactor cattle, albeit with a clean bleed then, Logan issued quarantine orders on the Campbell County herd and five adjacent cattle ranches. The 1,500 head on these six outfits are all quarantined on private property on their home ranches. The animals have not commingled at all and are not on leased or public ground, Logan explained.

Logan said the intensive brucellosis-surveillance testing program instituted since Wyoming's loss of its brucellosis-free status in February is responsible for the recent disease detection, indicating if the disease is out there in Wyoming cattle herds, this detection program will reveal it.

What was surprising to both state and federal animal health officials was that this herd was found far outside the Yellowstone area. Logan called it a "very significant incident" since brucellosis in Wyoming had not previously been found outside the Yellowstone area, where elk and bison are known to harbor the disease.

Logan said animal health officials do not believe there is any connection to the two previously infected cattle herds, and the new herd is located some 300 miles from known infected wildlife. But the Campbell County herd is known to have freely commingled with elk from a local herd of 400 head. Logan said it is not known whether this elk herd, hundreds of miles from an elk feedground, harbors brucellosis. Elk associated with feedgrounds have much higher brucellosis seroprevalance rates than elk not associated with feedgrounds.

State and federal officials have already begun the epidemiological investigation in an attempt to learn the degree of disease distribution and where it originated.

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