Cherryville farm suspected in bovine TB case

A case of bovine tuberculosis in B.C. has rounded up some concerns locally.

A case of bovine tuberculosis in B.C. has rounded up some concerns locally.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will not specify where in B.C. (due to privacy concerns), but several reports show the case has been traced back to a farm near Cherryville.

“It is my understanding that it is in that general area,” said Kevin Boon, general manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association.

Cherryville director Eugene Foisy also says there has been some activity in the Cherryville region.

“I know there’s been some testing done in that area.”

The case originates from a positive bovine tuberculosis (TB) finding in a beef cow that was slaughtered in the U.S.

Since the cow originated from Canada, and since bovine TB is a contagious disease, the CFIA initiated an aggressive trace of the cow’s origin to stop the spread of the disease. The investigation is ongoing.

“We identify the animals that have left the farm recently and came to it,” said Dr. Keith Lehman, with the CFIA.

“All of the animals from that herd of origin have been ordered to be destroyed.”

An exact number of animals destroyed hasn’t been released. Lehman says although a number of farms may be involved in the investigation, the number of cows destroyed isn’t large.

“It’s not a massive outbreak or anything like that,” said Lehman.

But the case still has some local farmers feeling unsettled.

“Some of the people in the community are concerned,” said Foisy.

Boon adds: “When ranchers have incidents like this happen it can be emotionally tough on them as they are seeing their livelihood and life’s work effected as well as when it involves livestock there is an attachment to the animals.”

But he has confidence in the CFIA’s work.

“It is an animal health issue and not a food safety one and as such the industry depends on CFIA to do a thorough investigation to protect our herd,” said Boon.

“In this case CFIA has been very diligent and appear to be progressing very well. We are confident that they are working hard to get it resolved with the least amount of disruption but at the same time doing everything necessary to make sure they get it cleaned up.”

Bovine TB can also spread to humans, and any individual that has been in contact with an infected cow should contact their doctor or local health unit.

“But the risk is really quite minimal,” said Lehman.

Farmers who have lost animals due to TB are also compensated.

“Any animal that we identify as being exposed is eligible for compensation,” said Lehman. “They’re paid current market value.”

TB is a contagious disease caused by an infection in the lymph nodes which spreads to other organs, typically the lungs.

The disease affects practically all mammals and before control measures were adopted was one of the major diseases of man and domestic animals.

The last time bovine TB was discovered was in 2007, when approximately 500 B.C. and Alberta cattle were destroyed.