New policies for Brucella testing

The USDA is giving more information about its new rules for Brucella testing.

This month it announced it can now be done outdoors on wild animal herds. Under the previous policy, it had to be done indoors in a costly containment facility, and it did not allow for a large number of animals to be tested.

Now, wild animals like elk and bison can be studied, which can have higher than a 50 percent infection rate. The disease can be passed onto humans and domestic livestock but it is not fatal.

The USDA says that outdoor research offers several different advantages.

According to APHIS’s Jack Shere, “We could come a long way to developing research tools, vaccines, and control methods to possibly reduce the infection in the designated surveillance area and reduce the cross contamination from the elk and the bison to the cattle in the area.”

When Brucella research began in 1952, production losses were around $400 million dollars per year. Now, they are less than $1 million dollars.