Two bulls in southwest Iowa tested positive for trichomoniasis recently, a venereal disease in cattle. State agriculture officials made the announcement June 1 and issued a quarantine order for the facility where the two bulls were tested.
"Bovine trichomoniasis is a reportable disease in Iowa and must be reported to our office," says Dr. David Schmitt, Iowa's state veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. There are no clinical signs of illness in bulls with this disease, but it can be spread to cows and cause infertility.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture issued a statement saying the quarantine order for the facility where the disease was found will remain in place until further testing confirms the disease is no longer present in the herd. The two animals were sent to slaughter and their meat poses no risk to human consumption, says Schmitt.
Farmers are encouraged to have bulls tested before purchasing
The entire herd these two bulls were a part of has been placed under quarantine. The district veterinarian with the state ag department worked with the herd veterinarian and the owner to immediately develop a plan for the herd. The owner is not restricted from selling calves or virgin bulls since this disease was discovered.
"Farmers who are buying bulls are encouraged to make sure the animals are tested for the disease before being introduced into their herd," says Schmitt. "Another option to take to avoid this disease is to buy virgin bulls."
This is the first known case of the disease in Iowa but there have been more than 200 cases in Missouri. Schmitt says the disease has always been thought of as a western U.S. disease, but as more cattle are transported across the U.S. in recent years, the disease has become present further east.
While Iowa doesn't require testing of animals for trichomoniasis, other surrounding states such as Missouri and Nebraska do require testing of animals coming into the state for breeding purposes. Schmitt says it has been discussed about making testing for "trich" a requirement for non-virgin bulls coming into Iowa.
This is the first known case of trichomoniasis in Iowa; this disease can be costly
Texas implemented a testing requirement on non-virgin bulls in 2009 to help prevent the spread of more of the disease across the state, as trich is already present in most parts of Texas. This disease is costly for producers, and it can put them out of business if they don't act to control the problem. One producer in Texas lost a third of his calf crop in each of the two years since the disease was introduced into his herd, which is a common report from herds that have the disease present.
If a herd gets the disease, it is important to pregnancy check cows to determine open cows. This disease causes early-term abortions and open cows can sometimes be carrying the disease. "We suggest selling open cows," says Schmitt. "They should be designated for slaughter, especially those cows that have run with a bull that ended up being tested positive. That way those cows cannot pass trich on to another bull."
Schmitt emphasizes, "It's always best to know where your animals are coming from so disease problems can be prevented. With this disease, farmers buying bulls are encouraged to make sure the bulls are tested for the disease before being introduced into the herd--or else purchase virgin bulls." There is no treatment or drug or vaccine for this disease. Once the bull or the cow has it, the animal remains a carrier.