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Bruc team meets to review goals, look to future projects

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Lander – The latest meeting of the Brucellosis Coordination Team, which took place in Lander, included discussion on brucellosis vaccination, the elk feedground test and removal program and comments made on the Select Agent Rule, in which brucellosis is included.
One thing reported to the team by Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan was the RB51 adult vaccination field trial.     
“Everyone on the team feels strongly that finding a new and better vaccine is a critical tool, so we really need to push this,” says UW College of Ag and Natural Resources Dean Frank Galey, who leads the Brucellosis Coordination Team.
“That’s an effort that APHIS and Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are trying to bring to fruition, to try to evaluate the efficacy and the risks of RB51 adult vaccination in pregnant cows,” says Logan, noting he’s not yet certain where it will go and that he will learn more later this fall at the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) meeting, for which he chairs the Brucellosis Committee.
“We will assess the efficacy and risks of giving RB51 to pregnant cattle, with the intent of getting several participating herds in the GYA (Greater Yellowstone Area),” says Logan. “There’s hope we’ll get some participation and that APHIS would incentivize the producers by paying for costs directly caused by the vaccine. In other words, if there were abortions, the producers would be paid for the cost of a calf.”
Logan says the goal would be to encourage some producers to participate by guaranteeing that they wouldn’t lose a lot of money as a result.
“We thought we might get started on the project this fall, but that’s not going to happen. If it does happen, we hope to get it started in Fall 2011. A lot of things, including funding, have to be ironed out first,” he adds.
Logan says the upcoming USAHA Brucellosis Committee agenda includes reports on brucellosis diagnostics, and perhaps some new tests. “We’ll hear about vaccine research and will have a panel on brucellosis in the GYA, and a second panel relating to brucella suis and the risks of feral swine in this country.”
Logan says that’s important because b. suis can confuse the test for b. abortus. “We don’t currently have feral swine in Wyoming, that we’re aware of, but should they get here – and it’s probably just a matter of time – brucellosis, whether it’s suis or abortus, could raise its ugly head in another population of wild animals.”
Logan adds that wild pigs can also carry pseudorabies, which can affect cattle, swine and many other species, including humans.
At the Brucellosis Coordination Team meeting, Walt Cook of the Consortium for the Advancement of Brucellosis Science (CABS) gave an update on that organization, which at this point is still trying to secure funding to facilitate research, which will be an on-going, long-term project in Wyoming.
“We’re seeking both private and federal funding for CABS,” says Galey. “The State of Wyoming did fund CABS at a nominal level of $100,000 per year for a couple years, which allowed me to bring Walt on board to put a concerted effort into finding the funds.”
Logan says both he and Cook informed the team of the comments submitted to APHIS on the Select Agent Rule, under which b. abortus is listed as a select agent.
“APHIS told us months ago that ‘soon’ there would be a notice in the federal register of an interim rule on brucellosis,” says Logan. “They told me that clear back in April, and now I don’t know when ‘soon’ is.”
“As the new federal rules come on, we’re very concerned as a state that USDA might turn their back on the problem, and on us,” says Galey. “We’re very pleased that they did hire a new individual in charge for Wyoming, and they were with us at the meeting.”
Logan says a considerable amount of the meeting’s discussion focused on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s test and removal pilot project, and all its pros and cons. “Quite a few people spoke in favor of keeping it going in some way, shape or form,” he notes. “My biggest concern is that we’ve spent money on this, we have dropped the seroprevalence rate on the elk that were tested, and it showed good promise and looked like progress was made. Are we just going to walk away from it now, other than to monitor it?”
During the meeting the team also went back through the original recommendations from their 2005 report, to assess which were completed, which were ongoing and which were no longer germane. “Good progress appears to have been made, and most things are being adequately addressed,” says Logan.
Regarding the team’s future, the agreement was made to recommend to the new governor that they continue. “Senator Hines told us there is funding for the rest of the biennium to keep the team going, and hopefully the new governor will keep us going,” says Logan.
“The team will take direction from the Legislature and the new governor, and my sense is there’s still plenty for the team to do,” says Galey.
Galey adds the team is also watching the situation in Park County, which might have more brucellosis in its elk population than originally thought. “We’re looking for an understanding of why that is, and what factors might contribute,” he says.
Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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