Southeast Indiana Bovine Tuberculosis Update

In August bovine tuberculosis (commonly called “TB,” or more formally known as Mycobacterium bovis) was discovered in a free-range white-tailed deer in Franklin County, Indiana. This marks the first time this disease has been found in a wild animal in Indiana. This finding means significant changes in disease monitoring requirements for cattle owners and deer hunters in the area.


The Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) has been working with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to test wildlife on a Franklin County cattle farm where TB was diagnosed in beef cattle in April. The 2-year-old doe that tested positive for TB was culled on the infected cattle farm as part of the surveillance effort.

Under federal requirements, finding TB in a free-ranging wild animal means surveillance testing of all cattle must expand to 10 miles surrounding the site where the infected deer was taken.

BOAH staff are reaching out to cattle owners in Franklin County and portions of some adjoining counties, to determine if cattle in the 10-mile circle are test-eligible and, if so, schedule herd testing. The surveillance area also includes a corridor along the Whitewater River from Franklin County to the Ohio state line.

“This is an enormous undertaking that cannot be completed overnight,” said Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM. “Farmers and hunters in this area have been extremely cooperative and supportive of our efforts over the years. We need their help now more than ever as we widen our surveillance efforts. If this disease is out there—either on farms or in the wild—we need to find it. Our status as a TB-free state is critical to our growing and thriving cattle and dairy industries in this state.”

Indiana has officially held bovine tuberculosis-free status since 1984 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under federal guidelines, that status remains. BOAH has found four individual cases of TB in three cattle herds and a cervid farm in this region between 2008 and 2016. In each case BOAH conducted surveillance testing of cattle and both wild and domestic cervids in the area.

Bovine TB Updates

Stay up-to-date on Indiana’s current bovine TB situation by subscribing for email updates on BOAH’s website at:

Testing For Bovine TB

All cattle 2 years of age and older are eligible for testing. TB testing requires two visits from a veterinarian, 72 hours apart. On the initial visit, the practitioner will administer an individual skin test to each animal. He/she will return to “read” any skin reaction at the injection site 72 hours later. If any reaction (such as swelling or redness) is observed, a follow-up test must be completed. The follow-up test will be conducted in a similar way by a state or federal veterinarian. Timing is extremely important in the testing process. The window to read the test results is tight (+/- 6 hours).

Surveillance testing will be done at no charge for producers in the surveillance testing area. BOAH is contracting with private veterinary practitioners to test herds.

About Bovine TB

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. Cattle owners who notice these signs in their livestock should contact their private veterinarian.

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