BOISE – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared Idaho free from brucellosis, ending the need for cattle to be tested for the disease before being shipped to other states, Gov. Butch Otter said Tuesday.
Otter said Idaho won back its brucellosis-free status because of cooperation among cattle producers, the Governor’s Brucellosis Task Force and the state departments of Agriculture and Fish and Game.
“This announcement is great news for Idaho cattle producers,” Jeff Faulkner, president of the Idaho Cattle Association, said in a statement released by the governor’s office.
Brucellosis, a bacterial disease, is rarely transmitted to humans but can cause spontaneous abortions, infertility, decreased milk production and weight loss in cattle, elk, bison and other mammals.
According to Otter’s statement, the state’s most recent cases of brucellosis in cattle are believed to have resulted from interaction with infected wild elk.
Idaho enjoyed brucellosis-free status from 1991 until January of last year, when the USDA reduced the rating to Class A after the disease was found in a cattle herd in Swan Valley, east of Idaho Falls near the Wyoming border.
The change meant cattle that were not sent to slaughter within the state had to undergo additional testing at a cost to producers of about $10 a head before being shipped across state lines. As a result, the number of animals tested in Idaho rose from 5,020 in 2005 to 24,574 last year and 14,877 in 2007 as of Monday, said Jon Hanian, a spokesman for the governor.
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