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Animal Health

Livestock health updates include brucellosis concerns, state vet lab news

Written by Natasha Wheeler

Casper – During the Livestock Health and Production Committee meeting held at the 2014 Wyoming Stock Growers Winter Roundup, disease concerns and updates on the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory’s new biosafety level three lab (BSL-3) were topics of discussion.  

Disease concerns

State Veterinarian Jim Logan stated, “The brucellosis saga continues.”

There is one herd in Wyoming currently under quarantine for the disease. Logan noted that it is a domestic bison herd in Park County that has been under quarantine since November 2010.

“The owner has offered to test out of the disease, and we are making good progress toward that goal,” he confirmed.

A greater concern for Brucellosis is positive testing of elk in Hunt Areas 39, 40 and 41 in Big Horn County.

Elk concerns

“The Wyoming Game and Fish Department continues to do surveillance from hunter kills in that area,” Logan stated.

A year ago, producers were asked to participate in voluntary testing of their cattle.

This was done for two reasons, Logan explained.

“Number one, we want to protect our own cattle industry, so that producers know before calving season if there is brucellosis in their herd from exposure to infectious elk,” he said. “Secondly, but probably equally important, is to maintain marketability in other states.”

Trich

Producers should also stay diligent about trichomoniasis (trich).

“State veterinarians, especially in the West, are trying to come to some agreement on trich import requirements for cattle,” said Logan.

State vets are working together to agree on the recognized age for virgin bulls and the length of time after a test that a bull can be moved.

“The other thing that is being talked about, which I will not agree to, concerns the pooling of samples,” he continued.

Logan explained that in some cases, samples are obtained from the same battery of bulls and pooled into one main sample for testing. He believes that this decreases the accuracy of the test.

Traceability

Western states are also working together on disease traceability agreements when transferring cattle between states.

“If cattle are officially identified with a tag and wearing the brand of the owner in the state of origin, the official ID does not have to be recorded on the health certificate,” stated Logan.

He explained that the animals still need a health certificate and a brand inspection to be moved. 

Also, federal regulation requires an official ID if no agreement exists between the transferring states.

Johne’s Disease

William Laegreid, director of the Wyoming State Vet Lab, also noted that Johne’s disease is something to watch out for.

“We are detecting a lot more Johne’s Disease in the last four years,” he said.

He noted that testing has also increased, which may contribute to the statistic. He warned though, that the illness can be costly and may be a concern.

State vet lab

Laegreid also gave updates about the state vet lab. 

Recent staff retirements included Don Montgomery and Ken Mills, leaving open positions to fill at the lab.

“We have a bacteriologist hired, on board and working. Her name is Kerry Sondgeroth,” he stated.

Sondgeroth is a native of Wyoming and was heavily recruited by multiple labs.

“We are very happy to get her,” Laegreid said.

He also noted that the lab hopes to have its open positions filled by the end of the summer.

In another update, the BSL-3 lab is waiting for final approval for repairs. The lab has had major structural problems and may need a total rebuild, according to Laegreid.

“The state has been very good about providing resources to address the issues,” he commented.

Experiments are being carried out elsewhere, such as labs in Iowa and Colorado, for now, said Laegreid.

Wyoming Livestock Board

Logan also provided updates on computerization of the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB).

“The WLSB has been under the process of getting our database computerized,” he stated.

The project was started to improve information accessibility while also retaining security of confidential information.

“The brand reporting unit has been finalized for the first stage,” Logan reported.

Computerization of the animal health, brand inspection and law enforcement units of the WLSB is also underway.

“We will have our reportable disease list, quarantine system, epidemiology and tag distribution computerized,” said Logan.

Eventually, the WLSB hopes to have an online request form for import certificates for cattle, sheep, goats and swine, as well as a portal for vets to submit test charts. 

Logan reported that the total process will be ongoing for the next several years.

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.