Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week explained for Iowa cattle producers the fact that USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has downgraded Montana's brucellosis status from Class Free to Class A. Thus, the state of Iowa has restrictions on bringing cattle from Montana into Iowa following the discovery of brucellosis in Montana.
The interim rule downgrading Montana's status was published in the Federal Register. Iowa imported 186,297 feeder cattle and 7,630 beef cows from Montana in 2007.
"Iowa imports a lot of cattle from Montana and it is important that our cattlemen know about these new restrictions," says Northey. "Iowa producers should not be impacted by this, but it's important they understand the new restrictions facing Montana producers."
Cattle coming into Iowa from Montana
Montana had been brucellosis-free since 1985, but the disease was found in a Bridger cattle herd in May of 2007. Per APHIS rules, the state had to remain brucellosis-free for 24 months after that discovery to maintain Class Free status. The process of downgrading Montana's status was initiated in June 2008 after a cow in Paradise Valley was found to be infected with the disease.
The Montana Department of Livestock is working on a brucellosis action plan, and will reapply for Class Free status as soon as possible, on May 27, 2009.
The plan will include, among other items, vaccination of livestock, improved animal traceability and disease surveillance, and increased emphasis on maintaining spatial and temporal separation between livestock and wildlife known to carry the disease. The Montana Board of Livestock has also directed the department to create a brucellosis task force.
The downgrade means Montana's livestock producers will, at a minimum, be required to test all sexually intact cattle over 18 months of age within 30 days of export. Exempt from the testing requirement are cattle sent directly to slaughter, from certified brucellosis-free herds and from ranch of origin to an approved market facility.
This disease affects animals and humans
Brucellosis is a contagious disease that affects both animals and humans. The disease mainly affects cattle, bison, and swine; however, goats, sheep, horses, and humans are susceptible as well.
In its principal animal hosts, it causes loss of young through spontaneous abortion or birth of weak offspring, reduced milk production, and infertility. There is no economically feasible treatment for brucellosis in livestock. In humans, brucellosis initially causes flu-like symptoms, but the disease may develop into a variety of chronic conditions, including arthritis. Humans can be treated for brucellosis with antibiotics.
The brucellosis Class Free classification is based on finding of no-known brucellosis in cattle for 12 months preceding classification as Class Free. Class C classification is for states or areas with highest rate of brucellosis. Class B and Class A fall between the two extremes. Restrictions on moving cattle interstate become less stringent as a state approaches or achieves Class Free status.