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Michigan’s increase in Bovine TB outbreaks linked to weather?

The Michigan state veterinarian says the recent uptick in bovine tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks could be weather related.

Dr. James Averill tells Brownfield the department’s hypothesis is that the prevalence of bovine TB has increased in the wild deer population which has increased the risk of it spreading to the cattle herd.  “We had some harsh winters in the previous years and that led to comingling, or yarding up, of the free-ranging white-tailed deer, causing more disease transmission amongst them.  When they disperse once it became warmer, it led to a potential for cattle herds to become infected.”

Governor Rick Snyder’s 2018 budget proposal does include a onetime ask of a million dollars to support bovine TB prevention efforts. Averill says the funds would enhance wildlife risk mitigation for farmers in high risk areas.  “We want to use this money in this request to help cost share and help implement some further infrastructure that they may need, whether it’s high fencing to protect their hay or it’s a high fencing for a feeding area.”

Averill says since the spring of last year there have been seven confirmed cases of bovine TB in Michigan, up from about three on average in recent years.

Bovine TB is an infectious bacterial disease affecting cattle and white-tailed deer that can affect the lungs, lymph nodes, and other parts of the body.

AUDIO: Interview with Dr. James Averill

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