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Anthrax

Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease of animals caused by a bacteria. Anthrax is not spread by animal to animal contact like many other livestock diseases. Rather, anthrax spores in the soil are likely ingested by livestock while they graze on pasture. Once inside the animal’s body, the spores become active. Infected animals may die before showing any clinical signs. All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to anthrax, but cattle, sheep and goats are the most commonly affected. In rare cases, humans can contract anthrax after handling or eating infected animal products.

When anthrax is confirmed on a Minnesota farm, our district veterinarians place a quarantine on the herd. The quarantine can be released 30 days after the last animal death due to anthrax.

Since 2000, all positive anthrax cases in Minnesota have been confined to the northwest part of the state. As a precaution, producers with grazing animals in that area should consult with their veterinarians about vaccinating against anthrax infections. Additionally, livestock found dead in northwest Minnesota should be treated as an anthrax suspect. Carcasses should not be cut open and examined as this could release anthrax bacteria into the environment. Instead, producers should contact their veterinarian immediately so blood samples can be collected from the dead animal and submitted for testing.

Brands

The Board of Animal Health approves, registers and maintains records on livestock brands in Minnesota. Brands can be placed on cattle, bison, sheep, goats and horses. There are about 860 brands currently registered in the state.

Brucellosis

Since 1934, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), livestock industry and state animal health agencies have worked on eradicating brucellosis from livestock. Minnesota was given a Brucellosis Class Free status in 1985.

Brucellosis can be spread between animals and also to humans. The bacteria causing this disease spreads through milk, the aborted fetus or other reproductive tract discharges. Infected animals can experience abortions, give birth to weak or underweight calves and have decreased milk production.

To protect livestock and people from brucellosis, Minnesota takes an active role in surveillance for the disease. As part of the national surveillance program, a Minnesota packing plant that is one of the top 40 in the country collects blood samples from adult cattle at slaughter for brucellosis testing. The Board follows up on suspect samples from slaughtered animals by investigating the herd of origin and testing the herd for brucellosis if necessary.

Cattle can be vaccinated to protect them from brucellosis. Vaccination was a major component of the eradication program, and many calves in Minnesota continue to be vaccinated today.

Johne's Disease

The Board is supporting testing for Johne’s disease in Minnesota herds by paying for the milk ELISA test conducted at the Minnesota Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) laboratories or blood ELISA tests at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) as long as funds are available.

There is a limit of 30 tests per herd and all samples must be submitted with the animal’s official identification. Herds with positive tests will need to have a risk assessment completed on their herd if they have not previously had one. Owners will need to work with their herd veterinarian or a Board district veterinarian to complete the risk assessment. This assessment offers an evaluation of the risk areas for Johne’s disease transmission on the farm and identifies where disease transmission can be reduced with management changes.

We have directed producers to contact their DHIA representative or DHIA directly if they would like animals in their herd tested for Johne’s using the milk ELISA test. If they would like blood ELISA tests, they will need to contact a veterinarian to arrange for collection and submission of the samples, because all blood samples for the Johne’s ELISA test must be submitted to the VDL by a veterinarian.

Upon request, USDA and Board district veterinarians will be available to conduct Johne’s risk assessments if herd veterinarians are not available or able to assist.

Johne’s disease is a contagious, chronic and sometimes fatal infection that primarily affects the small intestine of cattle. This disease was recognized as an important animal health issue for the U.S. dairy cattle industry in the mid-1990s. It was estimated in the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) Dairy 2007 study that at least 68% of U.S. dairy herds are infected with the causative bacterium, Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis. In 1996, the estimated cost of Johne’s disease to heavily-infected U.S. dairy herds was approximately $200/cow, with an estimated national cost for the United States of about $200 million. A lower herd prevalence for U.S. beef cow-calf operations was reported in the 1997 NAHMS beef study.

For more information on Johne’s disease or to schedule a herd risk assessment, contact your veterinarian or neighborhood district veterinarian.

Official Identification

Breeding cattle, rodeo cattle and all exhibition cattle require official identification when they are being imported into Minnesota or moving out of a herd within the state.

Breeding cattle do not need to be identified if they are:

  • Consigned to a state/federal approved auction market
  • Moving directly to slaughter
  • Moving directly to a slaughter-only handling facility

Breeding cattle are defined as all cattle except:

  • Heifers of beef breed less than 18 months of age maintained for feeding purposes
  • Bulls under ten months maintained for feeding purposes
  • Steers and spayed heifers

The Board offers free ear tags to veterinarians and cattle and bison farmers. You can order tags online or call the Board at 651-296-2942 to place your order.

Record Keeping

When producers keep thorough records, it benefits everyone. Animal health officials can more quickly locate potentially exposed animals during disease events, shortening the time it takes to conduct testing, obtain herd histories, and release herds from quarantine. This means that you can get back to business as usual a lot faster simply by keeping records.

Records are required to be stored on your farm for five years. They should include the date of movement, official ID numbers, sex and breed of the animal, and the name and address of any other person or party involved in the buying or selling of cattle. Records for feeders can be kept and organized by group or lot numbers.

We offer livestock inventory worksheets and pocket-sized memo books that make it easier to get started. Send us an email and we'd be happy to send you the record-keeping tool of your choice.

Tuberculosis

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease caused by a bacteria. The disease has the ability to spread between livestock, wildlife and humans. A national eradication program was launched in the 1930s and is on-going, as the disease is still present in some states.

Minnesota has eradicated bovine TB twice. The state first attained TB-Free status in 1971. When the disease was again discovered in beef cattle in 2005, the Board of Animal Health went to work. Thanks to the commitment and hard work of many, Minnesota regained a statewide TB-Free status in 2011.

Now that Minnesota livestock is free of the disease, it is our job to make sure TB stays out of the state. Our first line of defense is setting import requirements. Cattle at an increased risk of being infected with TB must meet additional import requirements, including whole-herd or individual animal TB testing.

Minnesota cattle are also tested for TB. Herd veterinarians conduct an initial test called the caudal fold tuberculin test (CFT). Animals that test suspect on the CFT will need a follow-up test performed by a Board of Animal Health or federal veterinarian. If the follow-up comparative cervical tuberculin test (CCT) is positive, the herd is quarantined. The Board and the USDA then work with the herd owner to determine next steps.

Additionally, federal animal health officials collect samples for TB surveillance at slaughter. The samples collected from slaughtered animals are sent to a federal diagnostic laboratory for testing. If TB is identified in samples from Minnesota-slaughtered animals, we are notified of these results and then begin an investigation to identify the source of the animal. Our district veterinarians gather background information on the infected animal and a quarantine is placed on the animal’s herd. The whole herd is TB tested to determine if other animals are infected.

Exempt Materials Feeding (Class B)

Feeding food waste to livestock is also known as garbage feeding. Garbage feeding can be an economical and nutritious form of animal feed, but it must be done properly. Food waste that contains meat or has been exposed to meat has the potential to carry disease. Our rules set standards for how garbage needs to be handled and cooked so that foot-and-mouth disease, hog cholera and other harmful diseases stay out of Minnesota.

Food waste that has never had contact with meat is known as exempt materials. Some examples of exempt materials include bakery items, cereals and candy that came directly from the store or food processing plant. Producers who wish to feed non-meat food waste to animals may do so by obtaining a Board-issued Class B permit to feed exempt materials. Exempt materials do not need to be cooked before feeding to livestock. Exempt materials include

Exempt (class B) materials are fed to cattle and pigs. In total, 22 producers have permits to feed exempt materials.