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States and APHIS find common ground on NBEZ alternative

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Riverton — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is considering locally-driven alternatives to the National Brucellosis Elimination Zone (NBEZ) concept it proposed Fall 2008.
    Following a June 18 meeting with APHIS, wildlife officials and his fellow state veterinarians, Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan said a locally driven proposal is being developed by APHIS in partnership with Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. “The alternative proposal has some similarities to NBEZ, but there are some significant differences.”
     Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal and Idaho Governor Butch Otter had come out against NBEZ. They instead asked the state veterinarians in their respective states to develop a proposal to present to APHIS. The effort moved forward at the June 18 meeting.
    “Today, the only remaining reservoir of brucellosis is in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) where it is an endemic wildlife disease that is periodically transmitted to livestock,” says a summary of the meeting outlining multiple points of agreement. The statement is the beginning of a shift from the current federal rules that address livestock-to-livestock transmission, to an approach that recognizes the wildlife-to-livestock reality of the present day disease.
    The federal program is to grasp the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) approach already in place amidst state-level regulations in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. It was agreed that states would continue to determine the DSA with the approval of APHIS. The federal agency called upon the states to prioritize their funding requirements while also detailing the investment of state and producer resources.
    In terms of disease response the summary states, “The response to an outbreak of brucellosis in a cattle herd will be isolated to that herd and related potentially exposed herds. Such herds will be quarantined by the state veterinarian in consultation with APHIS until such time as adequate testing and removal or depopulation have occurred.” So long as quarantines are rigorously enforced, discovery of a new case within the DSA won’t compromise a state’s class free brucellosis status.
    Depopulation of herds, including some cattle that don’t carry brucellosis, has been a point of contention for many when it comes to the federal rules. In some scenarios the depopulated herd is replaced with new cattle and has little to no affect on the disease risk. Logan said part of the group’s work involves addressing the Uniform Methods and Rules (UMR) addressing brucellosis. Changes to these documents are time consuming and involve a public comment opportunity.
    Long-term, eradication remains the primary goal. “Resources and cooperation from all partners are needed to achieve these goals,” says the summary. “While many tools are available, research is still needed on topics including but not limited to improved livestock and wildlife diagnostics tests, vaccines and vaccine delivery systems. Finding cooperative solutions in the area of disease transmission from elk/bison to cattle should be the number one short-term goal.”
    “We agreed on some core basic principals and will move forward from there,” said Logan. According to the meeting summary, a proposal will be drafted and available for public comment prior to Aug, 24, 2009. It will also come before the U.S. Animal Health Association in October of this year. This gathering tends to be a beginning point for changes in federal animal health policies.
    When producers have an opportunity to comment later this summer, Logan anticipates they’ll see something similar to the state’s Chapter 2 Brucellosis Rules. Those rules were recently revised and are available on the Wyoming Livestock Board website.
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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