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Bovine TB found in Manitoba cow

Neither Manitoba’s “TB-free” status for bovine tuberculosis, nor its beef and cattle export status, will be affected by the finding of a TB-positive beef cow in the province’s northwest.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) offered those assurances in a release Thursday confirming the finding in a five-year-old cow within 10 km of Riding Mountain National Park.

The cow was in a herd of 240 cattle in the Riding Mountain eradication area (RMEA), considered to be at the highest risk for bovine TB due to its known presence in wildlife.

The herd was tested in March under CFIA’s surveillance program, in which the results for the one cow came back “suspicious.” The cow was then ordered destroyed and tissue samples sent to CFIA’s Ottawa lab, where bovine TB was confirmed May 1.

All susceptible animals in the herd found to have been exposed to bovine TB will be ordered destroyed and compensation paid to the owner, CFIA said.

Cases such as this one occur from time to time, CFIA said, even though Canada’s herds are considered bovine TB-free. The herd in question was one of about 200 scheduled for testing during the period between fall 2007 and this spring.

Manitoba’s last finding of bovine TB occurred in March 2004, the agency said.

Bovine TB poses no health threat to the general public, CFIA said, due to safeguards in place in the food safety system. The disease affects mainly ruminants, including cattle bison, goats, sheep, elk and deer, but can affect all types of mammals, humans included.

Human infection with bovine TB would come from “prolonged, close contact” with an infected animal or from consuming an infected cow’s unpasteurized milk, CFIA said.

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