Bovine TB quarantines push into Saskatchewan

Two farms in southwestern Saskatchewan have been added to the list of those under federal quarantine as inspectors widen their search for cattle exposed to a new-to-Canada strain of bovine tuberculosis (TB).

As of Thursday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said it had “approximately 33” farms in Alberta and two in Saskatchewan under quarantine. The quarantine areas may change as the probe continues, CFIA said.

The agency had said Oct. 27 its veterinarians and inspectors are contacting cattle producers in Newell County, around Brooks; the part of Cypress County north of Medicine Hat; the Municipal District of Acadia; and Special Areas No. 2 and No. 3, north of those municipalities.

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As of Thursday, CFIA said, that range has expanded to include cattle producers in all Saskatchewan rural municipalities south of the South Saskatchewan River and west of Highway 4.

That area would include all Saskatchewan ranches around and south of the Great Sand Hills and west of Swift Current and Grasslands National Park.

The bovine TB probe follows a notice in late September from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that a cow from Alberta had tested positive for the disease at a U.S. packing plant.

The animal remains the lone confirmed case, CFIA said, and the source of infection so far remains “unknown.”

Genetic analysis also shows the bovine TB organism from the infected cow is not the same as any strains detected in Canadian domestic animals or wildlife to date, the agency said.

Canada is still considered officially free of bovine TB and would lose that status only if another separate Canadian case is confirmed within 48 months. Other TB-positive animals found in connection to the current probe would not be considered a separate case.

The Alberta animal’s index herd, which has been deemed infected, covers three premises in southeastern Alberta. Removal and “humane destruction” of animals at those properties continues, CFIA said.

“As this investigation involves a significant number of herds and requires the tracing of the movement of animals for the past five years plus testing, it is not expected to be completed for several months,” the agency said Thursday.

Only those premises under federal quarantine are barred from moving animals without permission, CFIA said.

Producers in the investigation area who haven’t yet been contacted by CFIA may move animals to feedlots, auction marts or elsewhere, but must comply with livestock ID requirements.

Bovine TB is a federally reportable livestock disease and has been subject to a mandatory nationwide eradication program since 1923.

Surveillance programs are carried out in areas where livestock have been previously infected. Manitoba, where the disease is still found in wild deer and elk in and around Riding Mountain National Park, south of Dauphin, has been officially bovine TB-free since 2006. — AGCanada.com Network

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