Frequently Asked Questions: Johne's Disease Control Program
Minnesota Johne's control program has developed into one of the largest and most successful Johne's disease control programs in the country. Minnesota is recognized as a national leader in Johne's disease control and its program has served as a model for other states and countries. Minnesota's Johne's disease program started in 1998 in an effort to assist producers identify and control Johne's disease in their herd.
What is Johne's disease?
Johne's disease is a chronic diarrhea and wasting disease of cattle and other ruminants. It is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis. Infected animals may harbor the organism for two to five years before testing positive or developing disease signs. Clinical signs result when the infection thickens the small intestine to the point that the cow cannot absorb nutrients. Signs include prolonged diarrhea, poor digestion, drop in production and weight loss while still eating. There is no cure for Johne's disease and it is always fatal.
What does Johne's disease cost?
The main losses to producers with Johne's disease in their herd are due to premature culling of infected animals. It is estimated that a 100 cow dairy with a 10 percent level of infection can lose over $20,000 each year from Johne's disease.
How does the Voluntary Johne's Disease Control Program work?
The Board of Animal Health offers free on-farm consultations called Risk Assessments (RA). RA are completed by either a state/federal district veterinarian or a trained veterinarian in private practice. The goal is to identify a producer's highest risks for spreading disease. The veterinarian works with the producer to develop a herd plan which informs producers of what they can do to stop Johne's disease spread.
For herds that don't have Johne's disease, the state offers the Test Negative Status Program. Participation in this program certifies that herds likely do not have Johne's disease. A list of producers involved in the Johne's negative status herd program is available on the Board of Animal Health's website.
If you would like to join the fight against Johne's disease, call your veterinarian, your district veterinarian, or the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 651-201-6810.