Statement: Update on the Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) Investigation – Alberta and Saskatchewan (2016-11-18)

In late September, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that a case of Bovine TB had been detected in a cow from Alberta when it was slaughtered in the USA.

A team of investigators was immediately mobilized to manage the Agency's initial investigation and response to the finding. On October 24, the operations centre in Calgary was fully activated. The Agency's emergency response plans are scalable depending on the nature of the event. Additional communications and logistical support was added when the National Emergency Operations Centre was activated.

There are currently 34 farms in Alberta and 2 farms in Saskatchewan under CFIA quarantine and movement controls.

To date there are 6 confirmed cases of bovine TB. This includes the cow that was confirmed to have the disease when it was slaughtered in the United Sates. All confirmed cases are from the one infected herd which is located on three separate premises in Alberta. All of the cattle from the herd are in the process of being removed from the premises and humanely destroyed.

While there are no confirmed cases of bovine TB in Saskatchewan the animals on the quarantined farms in that province have been in contact with the infected herd and are therefore subject to movement controls.

Of the animals tested to date by the CFIA, 52 have shown a response to initial testing and then received a post mortem examination. The post mortem revealed 12 of these animals had gross lesions compatible with bovine tuberculosis. The tissue samples from these animals were sent to the lab for examination. Lab results confirmed that the lesions seen in five animals are consistent with bovine tuberculosis. Five animals had PCR results that are positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, presumptive Mycobacterium bovis.

These positive test results indicate transmission between animals has occurred. The CFIA is currently conducting a risk assessment to determine how these results impact the investigation and whether or not additional herds may be declared infected. We are committed to sharing the results of this assessment as soon as they are available.

The increase in the number of infected animals has no effect on food safety. This is because all animals are examined for signs of disease at slaughter. Any animal which show signs of disease, like the lesions associated with tuberculosis, is condemned and meat from that animal will not be sold for human consumption. The practice of conducting a post-mortem examination on each animal slaughtered has been standard in Canada since the 1930's and is not a new measure applied in light of the recently discovered cases of tuberculosis in Alberta.

To date there are no trade impacts.

The CFIA is updating its website on a regular basis as new information regarding the investigation is available.

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