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Quarantine Order Issued to Prevent Spread of Bovine Tuberculosis

by Thunda

The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) issued a quarantine order today to restrict the movement of all ungulates, except horses on Moloka`i due to detections of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) on the island. The quarantine order was implemented to prevent further spread of the disease on the island and to the rest of the state. The length of the quarantine order period will depend on the success of eradication or control of bTB.

This island-wide quarantine order is effective today and was prompted by additional detections of bTB in Central and the West End of Moloka`i in the past few months.

Between June 2021 and March 2022, HDOA issued quarantine orders on six infected herds in the Central and West End of Molokai. Today’s order expands the quarantine and requires approval and a permit from the State Veterinarian’s office before the movement of any live ungulates, other than horses from premises on the entire island. This includes cattle, sheep, goats, swine, deer and antelope. This approval and permit are also required for ungulates, other than horses, transported into Moloka`i.

The quarantine order does not regulate hunting of feral and wild deer, antelope, pigs, sheep and goats on Moloka`i. The order also does not prohibit the slaughter, harvest, sale or transportation of meat from livestock, feral or wild deer, antelope, pigs, sheep and goats from the Moloka`i.

“The department’s Animal Disease Control Branch has been working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prevent the further spread of bovine tuberculosis on Moloka`i,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “However, with recent detections, this quarantine is necessary to help protect uninfected herds on Moloka`i and also livestock across the state.”

Bovine tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), and cattle are the primary host. Other species of animals, including humans, may also become infected. Although  M. bovis can also infect humans the transmission to humans occurs mainly in countries with high infection rates of M. bovis and poor disease-control programs.

HDOA will be holding an informational meeting for livestock producers, hunters and other interested individuals:

Monday, April 18, 2022, 6:00 p.m.
Lanikeha Community Center, Ho`olehua Moloka`i
(Zoom information forthcoming)

Background

Bovine tuberculosis has been known to occur on Moloka’i since at least the 1940s. In 1985, HDOA made the decision to depopulate all cattle on Moloka`i in an effort to eradicate bTB and more than 9,000 cattle were removed from Moloka`i. Following the depopulation, Hawai`i received “bovine tuberculosis free” status from USDA in 1993, which allowed the interstate movement with no restrictions for bTB. 

In 1997, that status was suspended when a 10-year-old cow on the East End of Moloka’I was found infected with bTB.  The entire herd was depopulated and after additional area and contact herd testing the State of Hawai`i regained its bovine tuberculosis free status in 1998. 

In June 2021, a new outbreak of bovine tuberculosis was detected in a small beef herd in Central Molokai (index herd). Testing of a neighboring beef cattle herd found that herd was also infected. The two infected herds were completely depopulated after ranch facilities cleaned and disinfected. The quarantine orders placed on those herds were subsequently rescinded on December 22, 2021.

In November 2021, a second detection occurred during routine monitoring when four swine from a farm on the West End of Moloka`i were slaughtered. The premises where the swine originated also contained cattle and sheep. Approximately half of the swine herd on this premises and a single cow were found to be infected. The premises was placed under quarantine and depopulated. The source of the infection in the second outbreak continues to be investigated. Swine traced from the index herd to other swine farms in Central Moloka`i are also quarantined and depopulation is being planned or is ongoing. 

More recently in January to March 2022, more infected herds were detected in both the Central and West End of Moloka`i.

Wildlife sampling with the aid of local hunters is commencing.  It will be important to determine if wildlife are infected outside of the East End of Molokai where infection had historically been confined.  It is presumed that the severe ongoing drought on Molokai resulted in not only weakened immune systems of animals but also closer association between wildlife and livestock likely resulting in these outbreaks. 

More information on bTB may be found at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/cattle-disease-information/national-tuberculosis-eradication-program

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