Well, I guess we can’t blame Wyoming and its feedgrounds for our brucellosis problems any more. Data from a recent analysis of the brucella abortus bacteria shows the disease has been in Montana for about 30 to 40 years. Why it’s just now infecting cattle is uncertain. Something has changed in the past seven years igniting recent outbreaks of the disease in cattle. All of the outbreaks have been traced to elk based on the genetic analysis. Now comes the hard part: how to keep elk and cattle separated so no more cattle are infected. Actually, the incidence of infection is pretty low, so managers are already do a great job. Out of more than 10,500 cattle tested since 2007, only 27 have tested positive for exposure to brucellosis. All of the cattle had been vaccinated, so the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective.
To read more about the issue, check out my stories this week in The Billings Gazette: http://billingsgazette.com/lifestyles/recreation/genetic-data-sheds-new-light-on-brucellosis-in-montana/article_aa7f56e9-9351-5c5e-a09a-e9adeb51b5f1.html