Bovine Tuberculosis Update

In late April bovine tuberculosis (commonly called “TB,” or more formally known as Mycobacterium bovis) was discovered on a beef cattle operation in Southeastern Indiana. TB-positive cattle from this operation were identified through routine inspection at a meat processing facility in Pennsylvania.


The Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) is conducting an investigation including testing all cattle in a 3-mile radius around the infected herd.


BOAH staff worked with the producer to test the remaining cattle in the herd, which were located on two Franklin County, Indiana sites. All of the animals were promptly removed to prevent further spread. The herd owners have provided purchase, sale and movement records of animals into and out of the herd for the last several years. Owners of herds associated with these movements are being notified as they are identified. Animals on those sites must be TB-tested or cleared of risk by other means (such as TB-free status).


What is bovine tuberculosis?

Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial disease that affects primarily cattle, but can be transmitted to any warm-blooded animal. TB is difficult to diagnose through clinical signs alone. In the early stages of the disease clinical signs are not visible. Later, signs may include:  emaciation, lethargy, weakness, anorexia, low-grade fever; and pneumonia with a chronic, moist cough. Lymph node enlargement may also be present.


What species can get bovine tuberculosis?

Bovine TB primarily affects cattle, but any warm-blooded mammal can be infected. The disease has been found in cervids, such as elk and white-tailed deer. (To date, hunter-harvested deer surveillance has not identified any in Indiana.) Family pets can contract the disease, but they are dead-end host.


How is bovine TB transmitted?

The most common form of transmission is through nose-to-nose contact. Indirect spread occurs when feed or watering sites are contaminated with saliva or nasal discharges. Aerosol respiration of TB bacteria can also lead to transmission. Encloses areas and barns with poor ventilation pose a greater-than-normal risk of exposure. The disease cannot be spread by foot traffic into or off of a farm.


How can humans prevent exposure?

Do not consume raw milk or unpasteurized products. Do not drink from a cattle watering source. Limit exposure to sick animals and time spent in enclosed areas with livestock. Wash well after handling any livestock, especially if they are sick or acting unusual.


More information about the disease and the investigation, as it develops, will be available on the BOAH website at:



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