Senator asks for aid in bovine TB fight

By Freedom Newspapers

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici has asked Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns for help as New Mexico grapples with the containment of bovine tuberculosis cases discovered in eastern counties of the state, according to a press release from the senator’s office.

Domenici, R-N.M., asked Johanns in a letter Tuesday to work with New Mexico as testing continues on the dairy and beef herds for TB cases, and requested that “any and all assistance” is made available to the affected livestock producers.

“This entire situation is serious and could cost producers as entire herds could be eliminated,” Domenici said. “Needless to say, the loss of our TB-free status would place a substantial economic hardship on our cattle industry.”

A confirmed case of bovine tuberculosis has been reported in a dairy cow in Eddy County and a connection to a TB positive animal in Colorado has been made to a beef herd in northeastern New Mexico, according to a press release from the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association.

The infected dairy cow in Eddy County was discovered during routine testing, known as slaughter surveillance, which is conducted at all state and federally inspected plants in the United States, according to state veterinarian Dave Fly.

Portions of Roosevelt and Curry counties are under a federally imposed tuberculosis zone that requires all breeding-age dairy and beef cattle to be tested before they are shipped out of TB zone after two cases of the TB were found in a local dairy herd in 2003.

The rest of the state doesn’t have to test for TB.

“The disease is an animal disease and poses no human risk,” said Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association President Bill Sauble of Maxwell. “But the costs associated with it can be devastating to cattlemen and dairymen.”

Testing costs $10 to $12 per head, Sauble said.

He said testing of the dairy and beef herds is ongoing and it will be up to 30 days before a final decision is made whether the state’s TB-free status will be lost.

Bovine tuberculosis is a contagious and infectious disease that affects cattle, bison, deer, elk, goats and other warm-blooded species.