News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contact:
Steve Lyle, Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,
Release #02-031
Suspect animals immediately removed from herd
SACRAMENTO– A preliminary diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis in dairy cattle in Tulare County has prompted the California Department of Food and Agriculture to quarantine the herd, and to test additional herds that have been in contact with the infected animals. Confirmation of the preliminary diagnosis is anticipated by mid-week.

The quality and safety of milk and meat products in California are not threatened by this animal disease. Almost all milk sold in California is pasteurized, which destroys organisms that could be harmful to humans. All cattle processed for meat are inspected for signs of TB infection and rejected for consumption if they show signs of the disease.

Dairy workers may contract bovine TB while in close contact with an infected animal, or by drinking raw milk from an infected animal. The exposure risk beyond the affected dairies is minimal. A bovine TB infection results in immediate notification of public health officials, who will monitor the health of exposed dairy families and employees. The California Department of Health Services oversees this effort.

Bovine tuberculosis is a common, slow-growing disease that has affected animal health throughout recorded history. The state of California has been involved in eradication programs since 1917. The last known case here was in 1991. Cattle in the states of Michigan and Texas have also recently been diagnosed with bovine TB, and the disease is commonly found in Mexico.

“Our outstanding federal-state animal health system led to the prompt discovery of this outbreak,” said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. “Food safety is our top priority, and this incident clearly demonstrates that our detection system of intense surveillance and inspection succeeded in identifying this infection.”

State and federal animal health officials are working closely with the dairy farmer and his veterinarians to implement control strategies to eradicate the disease from the herd and avoid possible spread.

Tuberculosis is a chronic disease that may remain silent for years. Infected animals, even those that appear healthy, may be capable of transmitting an infection to other animals.

The best way for farmers and ranchers to avoid bovine tuberculosis is to follow animal import regulations, know the TB status of the herd being purchased and require TB testing—if warranted—before buying animals, maintain permanent identification of animals, keep records of animal movements into and out of a herd, prohibit consumption of unpasteurized milk, and cooperate with government officials on TB investigations. Suspected cases of tuberculosis in large animals should be promptly reported to CDFA.

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814