MADISON, Wis. – A dairy herd in Waunakee has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, which can be spread to humans through unpasteurized milk or close contact with infected animals, state officials said.
During a routine slaughter inspection at Maier Farms LLC, meat inspectors identified a carcass that tested positive for TB, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said.
Patrick Maier of Maier Farms LLC said in a release his farm is working closely with state and federal agencies to quarantine its herd to prevent any animals from moving on or off the farm and to test every animal on the farm.
“We were devastated to learn that a dairy cow from our farm tested positive for bovine tuberculosis,” Maier wrote.
The release said the farm is following testing protocols to identify the extent of the disease. Regulations dictate every animal that reacts to one of the tests for bovine TB must be euthanized, whether or not they are confirmed positive for the illness, according to the release from Maier. This could result in the entire herd, which took more than 40 years and three generations to build, being euthanized.
“It’s hard to describe the impact this news has had on our family and the loss we feel — and that loss includes ‘our girls’ (our cows),” Maier wrote. “They are part of our family and the reason we are here. We have faith the farm will survive, and we’ll be given the opportunity to do what we love most, dairying.”
Dr. Darlene Konkle, DATCP’s acting state veterinarian, said in a release that her agency is working with Maier Farms LLC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, area veterinarians, industry partners and other herd owners.
“We are taking aggressive measures to control and prevent the spread of this disease,” Konkle said in the release. “Our staff and partners train for these types of responses and are taking the necessary steps to protect animal and human health.”
Pasteurized milk is still safe to consume, DATCP officials said. The pasteurization process destroys disease-causing organisms by rapidly heating and then cooling the milk, eliminating the disease from the milk and milk products.
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