Brucellosis Found In Wyoming Cattle Herd
by Maria A. Schulz
A herd of cows in Wyoming's Upper Green River
Basin is infected with brucellosis, a bacterial disease that
hasn't been seen in domestic farm animals since April 2002,
authorities said on December 5.
The herd of 400 cows is near Boulder in Sublette
County, about 100 miles south of Yellowstone National Park
and next to Muddy Creek, a state feeding ground where infected
elk have been known to graze.
Brucellosis can spread among and cause abortions
in bison, elk, and cows. Though rare in humans, it can be
debilitating and can be transmitted by drinking unpasteurized
milk or handling infected cows.
People who contract the disease are usually
veterinary workers, hunters and butchers.
Since 1934, the US Department of Agriculture's
enforcement of standards to protect cows from brucellosis
has included vaccination, and testing and slaughter of infected
The ailment has almost been eliminated from
farm animals in the United States, but it survives in wild
elk and bison in the Yellowstone region, where cattle also
Neighboring herds of cows have been tested
and officials are awaiting results to determine the extent
of the infection. Governor Dave Freudenthal said he is extremely
concerned about the possible impact on Wyoming's farming industry.
Since 1985, the federal government has classified Wyoming
Colorado officials have already prohibited
any Sublette County, northern Lincoln County or Teton County
cows from coming into Colorado. Freudenthal said that, to
his knowledge, no other states have taken action against Wyoming's
Idaho had a similar scare in April 2002, which
was the last time cows in the United States were known to
have contracted the disease. However, Idaho state veterinarian
Clarence Siroky said no sanctions were planned against Wyoming,
but that they would watch the situation closely.
"We're going to turn the screws up to
make sure we're increasing our surveillance," Siroky added.
The 400 cows from the infected herd have been
quarantined. According to reports, the 400 cows are all facing
slaughter, as a way of preventing the spread of the disease.
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.