By MATTHEW WEAVER
State officials have expanded their probe of possible bovine tuberculosis to 11 other herds, a Washington State Department of Agriculture spokesman says.
Investigators have traced possible links to the 11 other herds from a dairy in Moses Lake, Wash., said WSDA Communications Director Hector Castro.
"This is a matter of tracing out the cows that the Moses Lake dairy (owner) may have purchased back to those locations and cows he may have sold," Castro said. "Chances are it's likely to grow."
A sample from a cow that went to a Cowlitz County slaughter facility from the Moses Lake dairy is being tested for possible bovine TB. It initially tested positive, prompting officials to send a sample for further tests to confirm the results.
Testing on the rest of the 1,500-cow dairy in Moses Lake was to begin Jan. 25. The state is not releasing the names of the dairies, as the investigation is ongoing, Castro said.
Twenty cows on a Monroe, Wash., dairy, which sold the cow to the Moses Lake dairy, tested negative for bovine TB, Castro said. The dairy will resume selling its milk. An additional 300 cows, kept separate from milking production cows, are also being tested.
The state will also test a 60-cow herd near the Moses Lake dairy.
Testing will be conducted by state and federal veterinarians, not private practitioners, to ensure consistency, Castro said.
"We want to make sure they're all on the same page in how they're doing it," he said.
The cost of the investigation has yet to be determined. Castro said it will be paid for by the state and federal governments.
The tests include injections between the layers of the skin, with any resulting reactions taking three days to develop, Castro said. Final confirmation will be made in several weeks.
Castro said state veterinarian Leonard Eldridge advised that farmers and ranchers cooperate with state investigators.
"We're trying to demonstrate to other states and the federal (agencies) that we have this disease contained and other states can accept Washington cattle without being concerned," Castro said. "The more cooperation we get from the industry, the better we're able to do that."
Wisconsin has ordered that any cattle coming from Washington be tested for bovine TB. Castro wasn't sure if other states would follow suit.