The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it expects the investigation following the case of bovine tuberculosis in southeast Alberta will take several months to complete.
Around 30 farms have been quarantined following the discovery of bovine TB by U.S. officials in an animal originating from a ranch in the southeast part of the province in mid-September.
“We recognize that the quarantines and movement controls are having a significant impact on producers, especially those that planned on fall sales of their animals,” said Harpreet Kochhar, the chief veterinary officer for the CFIA, in an update on Thursday (watch the CFIA’s video below).
To date, only the original animal has tested positive, with preliminary testing of the originating or index herd completed. Herds on two other premises are now considered to be part of the index herd due to commingling for an extended period of time.
“As this investigation involves a significant number of herds and requires the tracing of the movement of animals for the past five years plus testing, it is not expected to be completed for several months,” said Kochhar. “As the disease investigation proceeds, additional premises may need to be quarantined while cattle are tested for bovine TB.”
The CFIA is bringing in extra staff to help with on-farm testing. They’re contacting producers in the following areas: Newell County, Special Area No. 2, Special Area No. 3, Acadia No. 34 and Cypress County (north of Medicine Hat). The CFIA says tracing is also underway for animals that may have been exposed at “individual premises and/or the Buffalo-Atlee and Suffield Block community pastures.”
Producers in the general investigation area that have not been contacted by the CFIA are still allowed to move animals to auction markets and feedlots but must follow livestock identification requirements, notes the agency.
The CFIA will compensate producers for animals that are ordered destroyed, but the financial impact of the lost marketing opportunities for quarantined farms is not covered by the CFIA.
Kochhar noted producers may be eligible for assistance through other federal or provincial programs. Alberta Beef Producers is working with both the provincial and federal governments to secure financial support — possibly loan guarantees or AgriRecovery compensation through Growing Forward 2.
The finding does not impact Canada’s international TB-free status, unless another case is found within 48 months (other animals testing positive from this investigation would not count as additional cases.)
The CFIA says genetic analysis of the organism from the infected cow showed it’s not the same as any other strains detected in Canadian domestic animals or wildlife to date.