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                                                                                                                                     July 2010

In this issue
Update: Dog sellers law
Cats and rabies in Minnesota
Foreign animal disease training
Free CEU's
Last call: Accreditation changes, TB training
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From Dr. Bob Ehlenfeldt, Wisconsin State Veterinarian:
 
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TB is on my mind these days.
 
On April 15, the USDA announced changes to the national bovine tuberculosis program.  Under the new program:
  • A state will no longer lose its TB-free status simply because of a TB-infected herd or herds.
  • Producers in that state will not incur testing costs for interstate movement simply because of geography. 
  • Instead of depopulating whole herds as the primary mechanism for eradicating TB, the preferred method will be to use risk assessment and epidemiology to develop a herd plan, likely involving repeated testing and removing reactor animals.
This reasoning is based on the high cost of large-herd depopulation compared to the low prevalence of TB (1 percent) found in the majority of infected herds.
 
Three months later, I must say that I still do not fully understand the impacts of these changes to Wisconsin's cattle producers, related industries, and veterinarians.  We've worked hard in Wisconsin to keep TB out since our last confirmed bovine case in 1995.  Our import rules far exceed USDA requirements and all other states' requirements.  However, given the fact that there have been 22 newly infected beef, dairy and deer herds in 11 states since Oct. 1, 2008, I truly believe that TB in Wisconsin is a matter of when, not if.
 
Under the new USDA rules, only the infected herd and any trace-out herds would be directly impacted, but the impact could last much longer than if they were depopulated.  If test and removal were used to control TB within that herd, it could take at least two to four years for that herd to be released from quarantine.  If it were a large dairy herd, how would the owner deal with calves? Under quarantine, they could not move to heifer raisers or veal producers.

Despite USDA's presumed intention of streamlining interstate TB requirements and relieving non-affected producers of testing costs, at least 27 states currently require Wisconsin cattle to be TB-test negative to move into their states.  As a result our producers are incurring costs even though Wisconsin is classified as TB Accredited Free by USDA.
 
The best term I can find for this current situation is to call it a conundrum.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Call me at 608-224-4872 or email robert.ehlenfeldt@wi.gov.
 
Dog days of summer?

fenced dogWith four day-long meetings under its belt, the Dog Sellers Advisory Committee has made good progress toward developing details to flesh out Wisconsin Act 90 -- the new law that brings dog sellers, animal shelters, and animal rescues under licensing and inspection requirements. Based on the 12-member committee's discussion, staff in the Animal Health Division wrote a working draft of an administrative rule. Among other provisions, it spells out standards of care and standards for facilities. The committee is reviewing that draft this week for further refinement.
 
The next step will be to write a "hearing draft" -- the draft intended for public comment. The Board of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will consider that draft at its August meeting. Once that group approves it, we'll post it online.  We'll have public hearings this fall to gather comments. You'll also be able to comment online, by email, or on paper.  We'll publicize those details here, on our website, and in a press release.
 
The law goes into effect June 1, 2011. Find more information about the law online.
 
Cautionary tales from Minnesota 
Two cats in Minnesota have tested positive for rabies recently -- one in west central Minnesota and one in central Minnesota. It's been a bad year there for rabies in domestic animals. Previously two cows and a dog tested positive.
 
Wisconsin's rabies cases tend to occur overwhelmingly in bats. Since 2005, we've had 154 rabies cases reported and 149 of those have been in bats. (Two were in dogs and three in skunks.) We've had nine cases so far this year, all in bats.
 
cat closeupBut finding cases only in bats doesn't mean domestic animals are safe. We have quarantined cows and horses in recent years after exposure to bats. We routinely quarantine dogs, and somewhat less frequently, cats, for exposure to bats and other potential carriers. 
 
There may be little that cattle and horse owners can do to prevent exposure to bats, although keeping a clean place will make it less attractive to other potential rabies carriers like skunks and raccoons. But large animal veterinarians can certainly keep reminding their clients that rabies is a possibility, and if you see CNS clinical signs, do not discount rabies as a diagnosis. If the animal dies or is euthanized, it should be tested. For sample submission guidelines, see the State Laboratory of Hygiene website.  For more information about rabies and testing, call 608-262-7323 or check online.
 
Small animal veterinarians need to encourage cat owners to vaccinate for rabies. Some cities, such as Madison, require rabies vaccinations for cats, although state law requires only dogs to be vaccinated. Even indoor cats should be vaccinated -- remember that Wisconsin's two most recent human rabies cases resulted from exposure to bats that got inside. 
 
We offer a rabies training course in Wisconsin Dells every autumn, open to veterinary professionals, public health workers, and law officers. Dr. Yvonne Bellay, our rabies epidemiologist, teaches the class, with presentations by Dr. Jim Kazmierczak of the Department of Health Services and Jim Powell of the State Lab of Hygiene. The class covers both the science and the protocol for dealing with suspected cases. It's a one-day course, with continuing education credits available. We haven't set the date yet for this year, but if you're interested, email us and we'll send you registration information when it's available.
 
See what you missed...
Wisconsin Animal Response Corps members joined those from the Minnesota Veterinary Reserve Corps in June for training in foreign animal diseases.
 
About 65 veterinarians, veterinary technicians, humane officers and others heard from featured speaker Dr. Tom McKenna,WARC logo now director of Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and formerly director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plum Island FAD Diagnostic Laboratory.  The training focused on recognizing foreign animal diseases, biosecurity precautions necessary when responding to an FAD outbreak, and state and federal plans for responding to these events.
 
Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are working to involve private practice veterinary professionals in their disease response plans. Wisconsin's group is also reaching out to others who know how to handle animals -- producers, veterinary and animal science students, livestock dealers, for example.  WARC is an "all-hazards" organization; while working initially to prepare members to help out during disease outbreaks, WARC could also be called upon to help with animals in natural and manmade disasters.
 
If you would like to know more about WARC, visit our website or contact Dr. Darlene Konkle by email or phone, 608-224-4902. 
 
Free CEU's
The Southeast Wisconsin Medical Reserve Corps is sponsoring a Community Preparedness Conference Sept. 17-18 at the Sheriff's Training Academy in Franklin, focusing on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
 
Among the breakout sessions will be two titled Animals/Vectors in Disaster: Roles for Veterinarians and Risks for Responders and Livestock in Disaster.  Our animal emergency coordinator, Dr. Darlene Konkle, will present these workshops. Other speakers will be from emergency management and public health agencies, hospitals, fire departments, law enforcement, search and rescue, and more.
 
The conference is free. Up to 14 continuing education credits will be available. There is a limited capacity, so register early. For more information, email Linda Botts, SE WI MRC coordinator.

Reminders, for the last time 
Accreditation changes Remember that the accreditation system is changing. If you are already accredited, your accreditation will expire unless you reapply by Aug. 2.  For complete information, visit the accreditation web site at USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services.
 
TB certification training  This year's CFT certification seminar is scheduled 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, July 14 at the State Agriculture Building, 2811 Agriculture Drive, Madison. (Map). This training is required for veterinarians last certified in 2007, so their certification expires this year; newly licensed veterinarians; and others who are seeking certification for the first time. The certification will be good until 2013. There is no charge and preregistration is not necessary. For more information, contact Margie Proost, 608-224-4877, margaret.proost@wi.gov
 
 
See you in River Falls
We'll be at Farm Technology Days July 20-22 in River Falls. Stop by and see us at our booth in the Progress Pavilion -- a big circus tent right in the middle of "Tent City," as the grounds are called, at the corner of University Avenue and Sixth Street.
 
One of our inspectors, Todd Stelzer, will be staffing our booth on Tuesday, July 20. State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Ehlenfeldt will be there Wednesday, and Johne's disease program manager Dr. Beth Patton will be on hand Thursday.  We're focusing on biosecurity, but happy to answer other questions or load you down with printed information.
 
For directions and other info, check out the Farm Tech Days website