The Washington State Department of Agriculture is investigating a case of possible bovine tuberculosis in a dairy cow following test results provided to the agency on Jan. 16. The cow had been sent to a Cowlitz County facility for slaughter, but the meat was held after a food safety inspector identified a problem and submitted samples for testing. State health officials say there’s no immediate human health concern connected to the suspected bovine TB case.

The meat from the infected cow was isolated until the test results came back. It will not enter food channels and has been destroyed.

The investigation is ongoing.

“The good news is that the safety systems in place were effective in identifying this problem and preventing it from spreading,” said WSDA Director Dan Newhouse in a Jan. 17 news release.

“Now, our inspectors will work with our federal, state and agricultural partners to trace this to its source and determine whether any other cows were infected.”


WSDA’s preliminary investigation indicates the cow was culled from a Grant County dairy herd and transported for slaughter on Jan. 8. There, an inspector with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service noticed a suspicious lesion and sent a sample to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.

On Jan. 16, the lab reported that the sample was consistent with bovine TB.

Bovine TB is contagious among cattle and can cause severe coughing, fatigue and emaciation. Cows can become infected from other cows and in some cases after contact with wildlife carrying the disease, state Agriculture Department spokesman Hector Castro told the Associated Press.

The Associated Press article also said:

The most serious health risk to people would be to those drinking raw milk from an infected cow, Castro said. A person working with an infected herd also could fall ill, he added.

"There's never been an incident of a transmission of TB from eating meat that is federally inspected," Castro said.

The WSDA has issued an order preventing the dairy from moving any of its cows and directing that all milk produced there be pasteurized. Meanwhile, inspectors with the WSDA Food Safety and Animal Services divisions are working with USDA investigators on tracing the disease.

Washington cattle have been TB-free since 1988, thanks in part to state and federal programs for detecting the disease. PD

—Compiled from a Washington State Department of Agriculture news release and an Associated Press article ( Click here to view the full AP article .)