USDA Withdraws Proposed Change to TB, Brucellosis Programs

Wildlife populations can serve as reservoirs for brucellosis and tuberculosis, but extensive surveillance entails significant costs.
Wildlife populations can serve as reservoirs for brucellosis and tuberculosis, but extensive surveillance entails significant costs.

Based on comments received regarding a proposed rule, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced this week it will partially withdraw the proposal. Among other changes, the proposed rule would have consolidated regulations governing bovine tuberculosis and those governing brucellosis. Specifically, APHIS has announced withdrawal of portions of the proposed rule that would have affected provisions governing domestic brucellosis and tuberculosis programs.

Those provisions were included in the proposed rule published December 16, 2015 (18 FR 78462). APHIS solicited comments for 90 days ending on March 15, 2016, and extended the deadline for comments until May 16, 2016. The agency received a total of 164 comments by that date, from captive cervid producers, cervid breeders' associations, cattle industry groups, State agriculture departments, State game and fish departments, veterinarians, representatives of foreign governments, and private citizens. The commenters raised a number and concerns about the proposed rule, including:

  • Commenters were concerned about the proposal to combine the bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis domestic programs into a single program for cattle, bison, and captive cervids, noting differing disease epidemiology, source populations, modes of transmission, surveillance streams, movement controls, testing, and management practices.
  • Commenters expressed concern that states may lack personnel, resources, and funding to implement and maintain required animal-health plans including cattle, bison, and captive cervid demographics, sources of bovine tuberculosis or brucellosis and surveillance and mitigations in the state.
  • The proposal would have based each state’s status on whether it had implemented and maintained its animal-health plan instead of prevalence rates, which commenters said would divert the program from disease eradication and international standards and require foreign trading partners to re-evaluate their requirements for importing U.S. cattle.
  • Many captive cervid producers expressed concern over proposed requirements to test entire herds and individual cervids as a condition of interstate movement, unless they come from accredited herds for brucellosis. Commenters also expressed concerns that, if an area had a known source of tuberculosis and brucellosis that presents a risk, that area could not be accredited or reaccredited.
  • Some commenters objected to a proposal requiring exhibited, rodeo, and event cattle and bison to be tested 60 days prior to initial interstate movement and again at 180 day intervals after initial interstate movement, with limited exceptions. Many State animal health officials and several industry groups objected to considering exhibited cattle and bison equivalent to rodeo and event animals in terms of disease risk, saying exhibited cattle and bison are at low risk for bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis.
  • Wildlife and animal health authorities expressed concern over a proposal that, if a state has known wildlife sources of bovine tuberculosis or brucellosis that pose a risk of transmission, the state would have to conduct surveillance of these source populations. In some states, wildlife authorities lack authority to conduct such testing, while other states lack funds for wildlife testing.

View the proposed rule, supporting documents, and comments AHIS received on this federal regulations website.

For more on bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis, see these articles on BovineVetOnline:

Gene Editing for TB Resistance

Brucellosis Vaccination: Still a Good Idea?

National Academies of Sciences to Outline Brucellosis Research

Managing Brucellosis Risk



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