BILLINGS, Mont.Montana has lost its federal disease-free status for brucellosis. The loss means mandatory testing for all cattle being shipped out of the state.

Brucellosis has been found twice in the state in the past two years near Yellowstone National Park. Eliminated in most of the country, the disease is still present in the park’s bison, elk and other wildlife.

State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski reportedly said that Montana must wait until May 2009 to request reinstatement of its disease-free status. That's a year after brucellosis was most recently found in a cow from a ranch near Pray.

DNA testing pointed to wildlife as the source of the most recent infection. Since no bison are found in that area, Zaluski has said elk are the most likely culprit.

The testing of cattle is expected to cost ranchers in the state's cattle industry an estimated $6 million to $12 million. It will be required of export cattle that are capable of breeding and over 18 months of age, at a cost of $7.50 to $12 per head.

To regain its disease-free status from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the state plans to expand cattle vaccinations and find ways to keep cattle from interacting with wildlife.


Source: Associated Press