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Southeastern Producers Upset Over Disease Surveillance

Farmers who attended a public information meeting about anaplasmosis here last week complained government isn’t doing enough to prevent livestock diseases in southeastern Manitoba.

The April 21 meeting was intended to inform producers about a local anaplasmosis outbreak and suggest ways to curtail its spread in cattle herds.

But a discussion period after presentations by government officials quickly turned into a litany of concerns about the risk of tuberculosis in the deer population.

Farmers accused Ottawa and the province of ignoring the risk of TB in whitetail deer, especially since the disease has been detected in deer across the border in Minnesota.

DEMAND

Producers demanded authorities test local deer and elk for TB and expressed frustration when told there was no money for it.

“You’re not listening to us,” said John Tkachuk of Menisino, who claimed the whitetail deer population in the region is out of control and said his combine hopper last fall was full of deer droppings.

But Vince Crichton, manager of game, fur and problem wildlife with Manitoba Conservation, said his cash-strapped department can’t do the kind of measures it carries out around Riding Mountain, where TB exists among elk and deer.

Crichton urged local hunters to turn in samples for testing and to report possible signs of disease in local wildlife.

SAMPLES

Dr. Lynn Bates, a Canadian Food Inspection Agency program veterinary specialist, also encouraged producers to ask

“A lot of guys are just fed up.”

– DON WINNICKY, MCPA

the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association to lobby for more disease surveillance.

Don Winnicky, the local MCPA director, said producers in his region are frustrated by what they see as a lack of effort by CFIA and the province to proactively test for livestock diseases.

“A lot of guys are just fed up,” said Winnicky, a producer from Piney.

But Bates said CFIA has had an ongoing investigation for anaplasmosis since January 2009 when an outbreak surfaced in Manitoba.

Since then, the agency has tested 12,500 beef cattle in eastern and southeastern Manitoba and found 22 herds with the disease, she said.

Of those, 13 are in the Rural Municipality of Stuartburn, one in the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie and eight in the Lac du Bonnet area.

TESTING

CFIA began testing for anaplasmosis since the Lac du Bonnet cases came to light through a routine serological disease surveillance program.

CFIA has so far tested 4,700 cattle in the Stuartburn-La Broquerie sector and found 245 animals positive for anaplasmosis, Bates said.

Four of the herds tested had infection rates above 30 per cent. One had a 66 per cent infection rate.

But Bates also said 16 herds in close proximity to the infected farms showed no infection at all.

All positive animals have been slaughtered and the owners compensated. Not one affected farm is currently under quarantine.

The CFIA investigation continues.

The source of the outbreak is unknown. Bates told the meeting the farms could have been infected for some time, although animals did not show clinical signs until recently.

Anaplasmosis is a blood-borne disease caused by a parasitic micro-organism transmitted by biting insects (or vectors), usually ticks.

CARRIERS

Some at the meeting wondered if deer entering Manitoba from Minnesota, where anaplasmosis is known to occur, could carry the disease.

But Bates said tests show deer are usually poor carriers for anaplasmosis.

Referring to questions about deer from the U. S. possibly bringing TB into Manitoba, she said the latest hot spot in Minnesota with infected cattle and deer is a considerable distance from the Manitoba border.

In a separate incident, CFIA announced a suspected case of anaplasmosis in British Columbia’s Nicola Valley has turned out to be a false alarm. That leaves Manitoba as the only province currently experiencing anaplasmosis. [email protected]

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