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USDA team reviews TB Eradication program
After a week long, in-depth review and examination of the bovine TB eradication program in Michigan, a team of USDA experts will make specific recommendations regarding the program to USDA policy personnel in Washington, the Michigan Departments of Agriculture, Community Health and Natural Resources.
According to Bob Bender, the state's bovine TB Eradication Coordinator, the full extent of those recommendations are not yet known, but there is a sense of what some of them may be. "We are particularly encouraged by the fact that we may now offer some latitude in how we treat infected herds. While whole herd depopulation remains the preferred method of herd disposition, we can now offer farmers with infected herds some alternatives and options that were not previously available," Bender said. "These options will include a test and removal program."
Within the past few weeks infected deer have been detected outside the TB quarantined area of N.E. Michigan for the first time. While previous efforts have focused on splitting the state into two TB zones, this latest discovery necessitates treating the entire state equally. Based on the detection of positive deer outside the quarantined area, the number of herds now confirmed with TB and the potential to detect disease elsewhere in the state of Michigan, the test and removal program is now a viable alternative. MDA Deputy Director, Keith Creagh, described the newly available options as "another tool in the kit, that will allow farmers to be full partners in the eradication effort."
The USDA team also commended the Department of Natural Resources for a well-conceived strategy designed to eradicate the disease in the free ranging deer population, and was impressed with the progress that has been made in that effort. That strategy calls for a reduction in overall herd numbers and, by limiting the amount of artificial feed available, minimizing conditions that will allow the disease to be transmitted from animal to animal. The overall measure of success for this strategy is the prevalence rate - the percentage of animals infected with the disease. Early indications show a significant reduction of Bovine TB in the deer herd since the strategy was implemented two years ago.
The Bovine TB eradication project involves a multi-agency team of experts from the Michigan Departments of Agriculture (MDA, Community Health (DCH) and Natural Resources (DNR), Michigan State University (MSU) and the US Department of Agriculture.