Trichomoniasis, often called "Trich," is a venereal disease of cattle that causes infertility and abortions, and results in extended breeding seasons and diminished calf crops, which costs livestock producers valuable income. Cattle trichomoniasis is not a human health issue. The causative agent, Tritrichomonas foetus, is a flagellated protozoan parasite transmitted from infected, asymptomatic bulls to heifers or cows at the time of coitus. Trichomoniasis has a worldwide distribution and is a major cause of infertility in naturally bred cattle in many countries.
Trich is a serious disease that requires prevention rather than a cure, and there is strong evidence that trich is increasing in cattle herds across Texas. To address this growing concern, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has adopted some new rules and regulations.
Beginning April 1, 2009, breeding bulls entering Texas from any other state must be either 24 months of age or younger and certified as a virgin, or be tested negative for cattle trichomoniasis within 30 days prior to entry. This first stage will stop infected bulls from coming into Texas. The second phase of the program, which will address in-state movement of Texas breeding bulls, will go into effect January 1, 2010 and will work to eliminate the spread of the disease in herds across the state.
"The regulatory components of the Texas Cattle Trichomoniasis Program will focus only on breeding bulls which, even when infected, continue to appear and act normally. Under the new regulations, Trichomoniasis also becomes a reportable disease in Texas, which will give us more information on where and how much infection already is in the state," explained Dr. Bob Hillman, executive director of the TAHC, the state's livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. "There is no effective treatment or vaccine for bulls and, as they age, the surface of their organs becomes more hospitable to the protozoa, perpetuating the infection."
Although the primary impact of the disease is on cows, which can become infected during breeding and lose the fetus, the cow herd is not included in the regulations. The majority of infected cows will clear the infection, if they are given 120 to 150 days of sexual rest. A vaccine also can be administered to infected cows to help control the disease in the cow herd. The majority of producers who commented on the proposed rule and members of the working group recommended that the disease in the cow herd be managed through information and education efforts. Producers with infected herds should consult with their veterinarian to determine the most appropriate measures to employ to eliminate the disease from their herds.
Dr. Hillman explained that the interstate, or state-to-state movement, phase of the trichomoniasis regulations will begin April 1, 2009. Breeding bulls entering Texas must be officially identified, and may come certified as virgins, provided they are 24 months of age or younger, and have not commingled with female cattle. A breeder's certificate must accompany the virgin breeding bull, signed by the breeder, and the information also must be included on the certificate of veterinary inspection. Routine documents also are required, including the certificate of veterinary inspection, and other applicable tuberculosis or brucellosis entry requirements must be met, depending on the state of origin, or if the bull is a beef or dairy animal.
Non-virgin breeding bulls or bulls older than 24 months of age entering Texas on and after April 1 must be tested negative for trichomoniasis within 30 days prior to entry. The bulls must have either one negative PCR test or three negative culture tests, each conducted not less than one week apart. During the test period and prior to shipment, the bulls must have no contact with female cattle. Like virgin bulls, the non-virgin bulls must be officially identified with a breed registry tattoo or brand, a USDA metal ear tag, official RFID tag, official trichomoniasis ear tag from the state of origin or other official identification. The animal must be accompanied by a completed trichomoniasis test document, certificate of veterinary inspection and other routine health documents.
For complete details on the program, visit www.tahc.state.tx.us.
Texas Wheat Board election underway
The Texas Wheat Producers Board biennial election is currently underway and ballots are available in the Nueces County Extension Office. Any person who is engaged in the business of producing or causing to be produced, wheat for commercial purposes is eligible to vote. All ballots must be postmarked by midnight April 9, 2009.
Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.