When two heifers on a Meeteetse, Wyo. , ranch tested positive for brucellosis last fall, technicians from the University of Wyoming State Vet Lab were quick to respond in tests of more than 320 other area cattle, in addition to 250 tested in the source herd.
The good news: results of the tests show that the disease had not spread.
A year earlier, more than 4,200 animals were tested shortly after brucellosis was reported in the north state, notes Walt Cook, UW brucellosis coordinator.
The ability to conduct such research projects rapidly is one example of how legislative funding support to combat brucellosis is paying off to the benefit of the state's cattle producers, says Cook.
The state legislature in 2010 approved $200,000 to initiate the consortium of stakeholders to fight brucellosis, and $400,000 was approved by the legislature this fiscal year to develop a more effective brucellosis vaccine and improve diagnostic tests.
Development of an unproved vaccine is not likely to economically feasible among private drug formulators, since the market of the product would reach to perhaps only three western states. The private companies would not be able to sell enough product to pay for research and development.
Current vaccines are only marginally effective, but with the state funding, researchers at the lab have already developed good vaccine candidates, reports Cook.
"A few years ago, Wyoming's State Veterinary Laboratory would not have been able to make such a quick diagnosis to determine the presence or absence of brucellosis in so many cattle, but the lab's capabilities have expanded in recent years to allow for rapid testing of large numbers of animals," he explains.
"Wyoming has also expanded its routine brucellosis testing surveillance in the area, and we are now able to identify positive exposure to disease before it can spread."
In October, the lab tested nearly 9,400 animals for brucellosis, Cook notes.
That includes animals under quarantine as a result of being affected or that had contact with affected herds, as well as those tested for general surveillance to meet Wyoming Livestock Board requirements.
Cook attributes much of the success to the collaboration among UW, the Wyoming Livestock Board and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
"This spirit of cooperation is somewhat unique and very valuable for brucellosis control and research," he adds.