Suspect WA herds given Johnes Disease all-clear

03 Dec, 1999 04:00 AM
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FIVE WA cattle herds tested for Bovine Johnes disease following the tracing of imported animals from an infected herd in South Australia have been given the all clear, confirming the state's freedom status. Agriculture WA chief veterinary officer John Edwards said there was no evidence of Johnes disease in any of the dairy cows which underwent testing. "The herds have now been released from quarantine and are free to trade without restriction," Dr Edwards said. "This result renews the industry's confidence that there is no Johnes disease in WA cattle herds." The owners of the five herds in the South West have had an anxious time waiting on the results of tests for Johnes disease on 17 imported cows. The cows had originated from a single herd in South Australia which was later found to be infected. Dr Edwards said the affected livestock owners, Agwest staff and industry representatives worked together to demonstrate that the imported cows were not carrying bacteria which caused Johnes disease. "The imported animals were slaughtered and culture tests for the bacteria were conducted. This is strong evidence that none of the animals had carried the bacteria from the South Australian herd," he said. "The suspicion surrounding the imported cattle has been resolved in the shortest time possible. Nonetheless, this has been a very difficult and stressful time for the herd owners and agency staff." Dr Edwards said the Cattle Industry Compensation Fund had provided market value compensation for the slaughtered animals and laboratory testing was completed as a priority. He said Johnes disease in cattle was suspected when animals had a persistent diarrhoea or scour. It was a notifiable disease and any cases must be reported to Agwest. "This investigation is a timely reminder that WA's livestock owners should be cautious about buying animals from interstate. The safest way to transfer genetic material is by movement of embryos or semen," Dr Edwards said.

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