For immediate release
When: May 2, May 7 and May 16, 2002; 7:00 p.m.
Where: Rochester (5/2), Fergus Falls (5/7), and St. Cloud (5/16)
Contact: Ann Freeman, Director of Public Relations, College of Veterinary Medicine 612 624-4752, pager 580-0494
U OF M COLLEGE OF VET MED USES TOWN MEETINGS TO EDUCATE FARMERS AND VETERINARIANS ABOUT CATTLE DISEASE
Meetings designed to aide Johne's disease control
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (April 26, 2002) - Researchers from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) are taking to the road to provide critical information about the control of Johne's disease to veterinarians and producers statewide. Johne's disease afflicts cattle by disrupting nutrient absorption, which leads to chronic weight loss and eventually death. Because current testing cannot detect Johne's until a cow is two to three years old, the disease has spread worldwide.
Scott Wells, DVM, PhD, a Johne's expert and epidemiologist with the CVM, says more than half of Minnesota's dairy herds have infected cattle. Annual economic losses from Johne's disease in the U.S. have been estimated at $220 million.
To help control the spread of the disease, this year the Minnesota Board of Animal Health received funds from the state legislature for their Johne's Disease Control Program and contracted with Wells and other CVM researchers to bring information about disease control and current Johne's research to veterinarians and dairy producers across the state.
In addition, grants from the Minnesota Rapid Agricultural Response Fund have provided funds to for research to better understand how to control the spread of Johne's disease.
"Johne's disease is a real threat to Minnesota's dairy industry," says Wells. "The CVM is working hard to advance our understanding of the disease and to bring this information to veterinarians and producers to assist them in control, and eventually eradication, of Johne's disease in Minnesota."
The first meeting was held on April 9 in Nicollet, MN. The next meetings will be held on May 2 in Rochester, May 7 in Fergus Falls, and May 16 in St. Cloud. For more information about these meetings, call the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 651.296.2942.
Johne's Disease and its impact on Minnesota's dairy herds:
1. Johne's disease is economically important to dairy farms, but often not noticed
Many infected herds lose over $200 per cow in inventory per year (USDA-APHIS study), mostly due to premature culling and lost milk production
The long incubation period (2-6 years from infection to disease onset) masks the impact of disease to producers, though infected cows can transmit infection to other cattle before showing signs of disease and/or testing positive for Johne's.
2. Johne's disease can be controlled on the dairy farm
Most herds are infected though purchase of infected cattle
On infected farms, transmission occurs primarily through fecal-oral routes, especially to susceptible young heifer calves
Disease control involves preventing heifer calves from exposure to manure from adult cows (with special focus on calving area and segregated heifer rearing)
3. The first step in control of Johne's disease is for producers to identify whether their dairy herds are infected. To identify if cattle are infected, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health will:
Test a random sample of 30 cows in a producer's herd to identify herd infection status (The BAH helps pay for lab costs of tests).
If herd tests positive, BAH district veterinarian will visit the farm and evaluate the key risks for spreading infection on the farm.
After the Risk Assessment is performed, a herd plan will be developed with the producer's veterinarian, and the district veterinarian. The BAH will test up to 200 cows in a producer's herd each year (BAH helps pay for lab costs of tests) to monitor infection.