Ranchers affected by the bovine TB outbreak are starting over

By Leah Murray - CHAT V Medicine Hat
May 15, 2017 - 6:40pm

MEDICINE HAT - A cow from Jenner, Alberta sent for slaughter in the US tested positive for Bovine Tuberculosis in September of 2016.

That triggered a massive investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency which saw more than 50 ranches near Jenner and at least two in Saskatchewan placed under quarantine.

According to the CFIA, approximately 11,500 animals have been destroyed.

Areas where the infected herd resided will have to undergo a strict cleaning and disinfection process.

“The process includes cleaning and disinfecting all hard surfaces, structures, tools, equipment and vehicles. In addition, some soil in high traffic areas may need to be removed. For outdoor areas, a 45-day waiting period of warm temperatures is required to kill any bacteria remaining in the environment,” reads a statement form the CFIA.

The investigation into the origins of the bovine TB is ongoing, but several ranches have been partly or fully released from quarantine, including 13,000 head of cattle.

The CFIA said all six currently confirmed positive cows have the same strain of TB.

This strain of TB is closely related to a strain first found in cattle in Central Mexico in 1997.

At this point, it's still unknown how this strain of the disease, found in Mexico, made its way to Jenner.

“We still don't know where it came from or how we got it it's kind of a cold trail,” said Brad Osadczuk, the owner of the index herd where the six confirmed cases were found. “But, we're going to do everything we can to make sure we don't go through it again.”

Osadczuk has had some of his land released from the quarantine and is picking up the pieces of his cow-calf operation.

“We lost 1,200 breeding cows and their calves and 53 breeding bulls in all,” he said. “We're trying to find the kind of cattle that fit our operations so it's not easy. We've bought back 40% of what we lost.”

Once these premises have been restocked, the CFIA will test the new herds after six and 18 months to ensure there are no signs of the bovine TB.

The CFIA said at this point their investigation going forward will be focused on the one infected farming operation as long as no new cases of tuberculosis are identified.

Financial supports from the federal and provincial governments have been made available to cover the costs affected ranchers have incurred.

Osadczuk said rebuilding the herds will be a difficult task that will likely take him and others several years, but he says they’ll do it with the support of their friends and neighbours.

“You stick together and take care of each other and your neighbours and the community, and we'll get through it,” he said.

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