According to Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), effective August 15, 2012, breeding-age cattle coming into Virginia from other states must be tuberculosis (TB) test negative and properly identified. Imported cattle over 18 months of age without negative TB test results and proper identification will be quarantined until negative TB tests are conducted and official identification have been applied to each animal and submitted to the VDACS’ regional Office of Veterinary Services (OVS).  Acceptable TB tests include individual animal testing within 60 days prior to entering Virginia, or an annual whole herd test for cattle originating from TB accredited herds.

On January 18, 2012, updated regulations regarding the health requirements for importing animals into Virginia became effective. Bovine tuberculosis (TB) testing on cattle that do not originate from a TB accredited free herd, as well as official individual identification, are now required on all cattle greater than 18 months of age coming into Virginia. Between January and now, VDACS has been educating cattle producers who import breeding-age cattle of the requirement for a TB test and official identification.

Once the most prevalent infectious disease of cattle and swine in the United States, bovine TB caused more losses among U.S. farm animals in the early part of the 20th century than all other infectious diseases combined. Since 1917, cooperative efforts of the states and USDA have nearly eradicated bovine TB from the nation’s livestock population. This disease’s presence in humans has been reduced as a result of the eradication program, advances in sanitation and hygiene, the discovery of effective drugs and pasteurization of milk.

Although bovine TB has been nearly eradicated, it is at this stage that surveillance and identification of infected cattle becomes most difficult. Within the last several years, TB has been newly diagnosed in at least ten states that were previously considered to be free. In order to continue to keep the disease out of Virginia’s livestock, reliable identification and assurance that imported cattle are TB-negative are essential. It is critical that potentially infected animals from out-of-state be permanently identified so that they will not jeopardize Virginia’s ability to market animals as coming from a TB-free state.

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