Department of Livestock Reports Brucellosis Affected Herd in Gallatin County


The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) has reported that brucellosis was found in an animal from a Gallatin County ranch, and that the animal was put down and the herd quarantined so no further spread could occur while extensive testing could be done on the rest of the animals.

According to the press release:

“The infected animal had a negative test in 2021 but tested as a ‘reactor’ during a voluntary herd test in January. Pathologists at the Montana Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory collected tissues from the animal post-mortem and sent the samples to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa where infection was confirmed by culture. The DOL quarantined the herd when the reactor was discovered and initiated an epidemiological investigation.”

Bovine brucellosis is also known as contagious abortion or Bang’s disease. It is a “serious disease of livestock that has significant animal health, public health, and international trade consequences. Considering the damage done by the infection in animals — decreased milk production, weight loss, loss of young, infertility and lameness” according to the USDA, and is a formidable threat to livestock and human alike, particularly because it can easily be transmitted to people. There is no cure for brucellosis, and animals that contract it need to be put down.

In humans who contact it, it is called ‘undulant fever‘ and presents as a severe form of influenza that can last for weeks, months, or years, with headaches, fatigue, weight loss, and vomiting being long-term symptoms.

State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski urged the importance of having herds tested on a regular basis, particularly when “when animals are already being worked such as fall pregnancy checking.”

Thankfully, it is not common in Montana, as ranchers here have been highly compliant with testing and regulation, and this is just the 12th brucellosis-affected herd found since the creation of the DSA nearly 12 years ago.


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