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CFIA investigating bovine TB found in B.C. cow

A case of bovine tuberculosis has been found in a cow that originated in British Columbia’s southern interior.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the single positive case Nov. 9 and released the news Nov. 19.

In a news release, the CFIA said the mature beef cow was sent for slaughter Oct. 26 to a federally inspected plant in Alberta and upon a routine post-mortem it showed the lesions distinctive to bovine TB. Samples were sent to the CFIA’s Ottawa laboratory and confirmed as positive for the disease Nov. 9.

The CFIA said it has launched an investigation and because bovine TB is a reportable disease, a mandatory eradication program is expected to ensue. Quarantines and movement restrictions on implicated animals are part of that.

Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association, said the cow went directly from the farm to the plant and is from “a fairly closed herd.”

“My anticipation is that the traceout will be fairly easy, as will the trace- in, and won’t involve a lot of herds, but it remains to be seen just exactly what, as the investigation goes on, about neighbours and stuff, but even that I don’t anticipate will affect a lot of neighbours. But we have no idea of … the number of cattle at this point in time.”

Boon said the producer who owns the source herd has an average-sized operation with about 200 cows. Both that producer and CFIA officials have met with those at neighbouring operations to explain the situation and next steps.

“They’re all very good operators so the risk of cross contamination should be low, so I’m optimistic that if there are further cases, they’re probably going to be confined to that ranch.”

Testing of the source herd is likely to begin shortly.

The CFIA said the case should not affect Canada’s current status as free of bovine TB.

“The CFIA is in the very early stages of its investigation. It has begun tracing movements of the animal in the infected herd to try to identify the source and any potential spread of the disease. This involves identifying all herds that have come in contact with the infected animal during its life,” the release said.

“The CFIA has also begun testing to identify the strain of the bacterium as this may inform if there are connections to previous cases.”

The last Canadian case of bovine TB occurred in 2016 on a ranch near Jenner, Alta. The investigation into that case led to discovery of six infected animals and resulted in the destruction of about 11,500 cattle.

That investigation officially ended in May. The source of the disease was not determined.

B.C. also had a case of TB in 2011, when six cattle in the Lumby region were diagnosed. About 200 cattle were destroyed in the mandatory eradication program and again, the source was never identified.

Boon said he believes the CFIA learned some lessons from the Alberta case, when affected producers complained, among other things, about lack of communication in the investigation’s early stages.

“I think that in this case there’s a lot of lessons that were learned in Alberta that they’re not going to repeat. I think that CFIA at this point in time is doing everything in their power to make sure that what went wrong out there doesn’t go wrong here and what went right gets put into place here.

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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