KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Tennessee dairy and cattle herds have been designated brucellosis-free for the first time since testing for the disease began 40 years ago.
Dr. Hugh S. McCampbell, veterinarian in the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, said brucellosis causes cows to miscarry their calves and drastically reduces milk production.
To earn the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s certification, a state must go 12 consecutive months without a positive test for brucellosis, often called Bang’s disease.
“Many people associated with the dairy and beef industries have worked long and hard for 40 years to earn this status,” McCampbell said. “Last month was our 12th month without a positive test.”
Cattle are blood tested at stockyards for brucellosis every time they are sold, McCampbell said.
Brucellosis in humans is called undulant fever and it can be fatal. Prior to pasturization, people came in contact with the disease usually by drinking raw milk.
“You can also get it by coming into contact with a cow’s body fluids during the birthing process,” McCampbell said.
Blood testing of cattle for brucellosis will continue.
“It’s been said that it can be harder to maintain a brucellosis-free status than it is to earn it,” McCampbell said. “With constant monitoring and everyone’s cooperation, it can be done.”
Contact: Dr. Hugh S. McCampbell (423-974-5566)