State downplays bovine tuberculosis possibility

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(Host) State officials are downplaying the possibility that a cow in a Northeast Kingdom dairy herd has bovine tuberculosis.

They say even if the Holstein heifer is shown to have the disease, the risk to humans is small.

Officials say the initial tests used for bovine tuberculosis can return positive results that are false.

As a result, the cow in question will be euthanized so more tests can be conducted.

It’s possible for tuberculosis to be transmitted from animals to humans, but only if a person comes into contact with an infected cow or drinks un-pasteurized milk from the animal.

Susan Schoenfeld is with the Vermont Department of Health.

(Schoenfeld) “For the general public, we don’t have a risk and any concerns, if this did turn out positive and its not now, would be for people with close contact. On the way outside chance that we found someone who had exposure, there’s medical treatment for this.”

(Host) The last confirmed case of bovine tuberculosis in Vermont was in 1979.

State Veterinarian Dr. Kerry Rood says it could be a serious setback for the dairy industry if Vermont losses its tuberculosis-free status.

(Rood) “We could be reclassified as something other than free and that subjects our agricultural community to more stringent testing, more rigorous testing. It would have a huge economic impact on our industry.”

(Host) Officials won’t release the name of the farm or the town in which the cow is located.

They’ve placed quarantine on the herd to prevent animals from being shipped elsewhere.

Health officials say it could take two months for conclusive test results to come back.

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