LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) launched an investigation into an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis in Alcona County. This is the 65th cattle herd in Michigan found with bovine TB and the 16th in Alcona County since 1998, according to the agency.

“Successful investigations are a direct result of ongoing efforts by Michigan’s cattle producers, in cooperation with MDARD, to properly identify cattle leaving Michigan farms,” Dr. Rick Smith, assistant state veterinarian, said in a statement. “Pinpointing where animals have traveled and being able to specifically find them within a herd is key to preventing the spread of bovine TB.”

MDARD said bovine TB is endemic in the white-tailed deer population in Alcona County. Direct or indirect contact with the deer can spread bovine TB throughout a cattle herd. Bovine TB primarily affects cattle, but it can spread between wildlife populations and other mammals, including humans, MDARD noted.

To catch the disease in the early stages, annual surveillance testing and testing before moving a cattle herd is required in designated bovine TB portions of Michigan’s Northeastern Lower Peninsula. Additionally, all cattle in Michigan must have electronic identification ear tags before they can be moved from a farm. MDARD uses the tags to trace cattle movements in the event of a disease outbreak.