CFIA in final stages of bovine tuberculosis testing

By Charles Lefebvre
December 6, 2017 - 5:34pm Updated: December 6, 2017 - 7:00pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is heading into the final stages of testing after bovine tuberculosis was discovered in the province more than one year ago.

Dr. Rick James-Davies, chief inspector with the CFIA, says the organization is moving towards its final testing of trace in herds, and it will likely be concluded within the next two weeks. The agency is testing 71 trace-in herds.

Trace-in herds are ones which sent animals to the initial infected herd near Jenner within the last five years.

The trace-in herds are located in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. James-Davies says the final tests could be finished within the next two weeks.

“(There’s) a little bit of lab data to come in after that,” he said over the phone from Calgary on Wednesday. “Barring any unexpected results, we should be able to say all our testing is finished, and the investigation is wrapping up, and then it’s just a matter of collating all of our information and publishing our final report.”

Bovine tuberculosis was detected in a cow from Jenner that was slaughtered in the United States in September 2016. Since the disease was discovered, six cases, all from the same herd were found to have the disease. The investigation resulted in more than 150 ranches being tested, with dozens placed under quarantine. More than 11,500 head of cattle were destroyed as a result of the investigation.

James-Davies says the agency is thankful for the cooperation from cattle associations in Alberta and Saskatchewan during the investigation, with more than 50,000 animals tested.

“It’s really the expertise of those folks working on the farms and really understanding the nature of the cattle industry in Western Canada and how these farms operate has really helped us,” he said. “I think we’ve underscored, along with our industry partners, the importance of a robust tracing system in Canada.

“The cattle industry is a complex industry in Canada with a lot of moving parts, so it can be a fair amount of work to ask ourselves where might an individual cow or groups of cows have move in the last five years. We had a lot of good tools at our disposal to do that.”

The final report is expected to be released by spring 2018.

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