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We Can Do It

Written by Dennis Sun
As cattle producers, we have all been affected by the wildlife disease brucellosis. We’ve come a long way but as you can see by this week’s article, we have a long way to go.
    First off, everybody is wishing for a silver bullet – a vaccine to rid the world of brucellosis, both in livestock and wildlife. That, in turn, would hopefully solve the human issue – but some experts say that will not happen in their lifetime, such as the lady from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. I certainly hope she is an elderly lady.
    Looking back in time, we have gained ground with brucellosis. First, years back I would have never gotten away with calling it a wildlife disease, but, in reality that is what it is in Wyoming. The cattle industry has time and time again eliminated the disease from cattle, but we have this cesspool of brucellosis in the elk and bison in Yellowstone Park that leaks out and nails us every now and then. Thank the Good Lord and others that it’s not such a big deal with the Feds anymore, and we don’t have to depopulate herds of cattle like we used to.  
    Besides a few large animal vets scattered around, it is not a human health factor in America, except for maybe Alaska with all the infected reindeer. In many countries around the world, it is a human, livestock and wildlife issue, and one that people just have to learn to live with.
    From a worldwide take, we do need to improve the tools we have to deal with brucellosis and need to keep looking for the “silver bullet” to eliminate the disease. Something I didn’t realize is the number of universities that are researching brucellosis, besides our University of Wyoming and other colleges in states surrounding Yellowstone, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University and the University of California-Davis are working with brucellosis. I’m sure there are more, but I don’t know of them. As we read in this week’s article, there is the Consortium of Advancement of Brucellosis Science group that meets to discuss issues, and also there is the Wyoming Brucellosis Coordination Team along with the USDA APHIS Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Regulatory Working Group. I’m sure other similar groups in the states surrounding Yellowstone Park are working to address the issue.  
    While the word “brucellosis” does make us perk up our ears these days, it doesn’t strike fear in our eyes like it has in years past when we all had milk cows on the place. We do hear about a different strain of brucellosis that is in feral pigs as far north as Colorado, and that’s not a good sign. Where else is it?
    Hats off to Wyoming’s Walt Cook and UW Ag College’s Dean Frank Galey, along with others from UW, for being right in the middle of what is happening with the disease. We appreciate their efforts and the hard work of others involved. It is hard for us laymen to fully understand this disease, so thank God we have those who do and some of the best are in Wyoming.      
Dennis