300-plus cows described as 'clean as a whistle'
By STEVE BROWN
MONROE, Wash. -- A team of seven investigators from the USDA and the Washington State Department of Agriculture have declared a dairy near Monroe to be clear of bovine tuberculosis.
Tracing back from a positive TB result from a cow at a Cowlitz County slaughter facility led to this dairy and about a dozen other herds in Washington and Idaho, which will also be examined.
The cow was from a Moses Lake dairy and had been bought from the Monroe dairy about a year ago. Cattle at the Moses Lake dairy and elsewhere are still being tested.
The 300-plus cows in the Monroe herd were injected with TB antigens in the skin at the underside base of the tail. Three days later, on Jan. 25, each animal was visually and manually checked for reactions to the antigen.
The vets were looking for a buildup of antibodies in the form of a lump, but USDA veterinarian and co-lead investigator John Huntley declared the animals "clean as a whistle -- there wasn't a pimple."
Washington has been an official TB-free state since 1988, WSDA communications director Hector Castro said. It will maintain that status if it proves the disease has been contained.
"They'll keep looking until they find the source of the infection," he said.
The infection could have originated from an animal brought in from another state, from wildlife or even from humans.
Paul Kohrs, the assistant state veterinarian and co-leader of the team, said the fate of the source cow or its herd will not be decided until the source has been confirmed.