Bovine tuberculosis case probed

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State Department of Agriculture officials are investigating a case of possible bovine tuberculosis in a dairy cow after test results were provided to the agency Wednesday.

The cow had been sent to a Cowlitz County facility for slaughter, but the meat was held after a food safety inspector identified a problem and submitted samples for testing. Health officials said there is no immediate human health concern connected to the case.

The meat from the infected cow was isolated until the test results came back and has been destroyed. Pasteurization will have dealt with bacteria, including bovine TB, in the milk although the state Department of Health recommends against drinking raw milk because of potential health risks. In a release, WSDA Director Dan Newhouse said the investigation is ongoing.

“The good news is that the safety systems in place were effective in identifying this problem and preventing it from spreading,” Newhouse said. “Now, our inspectors will work with our federal, state and agricultural partners to trace this to its source and determine whether any other cows were infected.”

The cow was culled from a Grant County dairy herd and transported for slaughter Jan. 8. The WSDA has issued an order preventing the dairy from moving any of its cows and directing that all milk produced there be pasteurized.

Bovine TB is contagious among cattle and can cause severe coughing, fatigue and emaciation. A bovine TB eradication campaign by animal health officials and the livestock industry has all but eliminated the disease from the U.S. since the program began in 1917, except for sporadic occurrences.

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