State scientists are reporting another case of bovine tuberculosis is being confirmed in Northern Michigan. It marks the 81st cattle herd in Michigan to be identified with the disease going back to the late 90’s.

The new Cheboygan County positive test is from what the state calls an
“Accredited Free Zone”. It can be confusing when trying to explain what that means, balanced against the other related designation of “Modified Accredited Zone”.  The latter is where most of the cases found in the state have been discovered.

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The new bovine TB case is the first in a cattle herd in the county. But the state got positive results from two free-range whitetail deer tested in the county back in 2010. Bovine TB is not something to mess around with. Humans are able to contract the bacterial disease. While it is a rare occurrence, there are known human cases.  Whitetail deer that roam freely throughout Northern Michigan are known carriers. Farmers take exceptional measures to keep their cattle separated from deer, especially in Northern Michigan where this new case was discovered.

State of Michigan Veterinarian Nora Wineland keeps close track of the issue, She says, “As with all new findings of this disease in a cattle herd, additional testing will be done in the herd, and an epidemiologic investigation has been started to rule out the possibility of additional cases stemming from the affected herd. A key part of this investigation will be whole genome sequencing, a comprehensive analysis of DNA from the TB bacteria found within this sample. This analysis will help to determine the source of the infection. Results of this testing may take up to three months to be completed.”

The state Agriculture Department continues to support deer hunting in the region as one of the best ways to effectively manage both the deer herd and safe cattle ranching.  Michigan deer hunters are routinely warned about bovine TB and the potential of deer being infected. Most cattle herds are routinely tested for the disease as well.  The state and federal agriculture departments are confident of the safety of beef and dairy products in Michigan.

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