Newaygo Co. steer tests positive for bovine TB

CDC: Disease can spread to humans, but rarely does

bovine tuberculosis
Galen and Sue Schalk's cow herd is shown at their farm in northern Montmorency County near Alpena, Mich., March 15, 1999. (AP Photo/John Flesher)

GRANT, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan officials have set up a three-mile surveillance area around a Newaygo County farm after one of its steers tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the steer had been sent to slaughter when samples confirmed it had the disease, which is very rare in West Michigan.

MDARD tracked the two-year-old steer to the farm through its ear tag. Through a whole genome sequencing test, veterinarians determined the bovine TB the steer had was similar to the bovine TB found in cattle and free-ranging white-tailed deer in northeastern lower Michigan.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, bovine tuberculosis can cause TB in people who consume contaminated unpasteurized dairy products or have direct contact with a wound, such as inhaling the bacteria during slaughtering.

However, the CDC says bovine TB is responsible for less than 2 percent of total human TB cases in the U.S. The number of cases has been curbed by disease control and routine pasteurization of cow’s milk.

A Michigan official told 24 Hour News 8 this case is “not a food safety issue.”

Bovine tuberculosis plagued Michigan’s cattle industry from the late 1990s into the early 2000s, according to the Associated Press. A three-year campaign to test every cow in Michigan for the disease was winding down in December 2003.

All farms within a three mile radius of where the steer was raised will have six months to complete bovine TB testing, according to MDARD. The affected farms will be notified by letter.

MDARD plans to hold an informational meeting about the case of bovine TB at 7 p.m. on March 27. The meeting will take place at the Grant Community Center at 105 S. Front Street.


Bovine tuberculosis in Michigan

CDC on bovine TB in humans