SACRAMENTO – A herd of 3,000 dairy cattle in Tulare County has been quarantined and 56 cows have been killed after a federal meat inspector found traces of bovine tuberculosis.
The disease was suspected four weeks ago when an inspector noticed suspicious lesions on beef in a Hanford meat packing plant, Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture said Monday.
A test confirmed the disease and the Holstein cow was traced to the Tulare dairy. Further tests found dozens of cows were exposed to the disease.
“We have 89 cattle that have tested positive for exposure. That’s a lot,” Lyle said.
Lyle said 56 cows were killed Friday and 33 were scheduled to be killed Tuesday.
Lyle refused to name the farm where the outbreak occurred, citing biosecurity concerns. He said farm employees and the milk processor that buys milk from the dairy have been notified.
Under the quarantine, no cow can be moved from the farm until it is tested as free of the disease, Lyle said.
Bovine TB is a deadly lung disease that has been found in Michigan and Texas and is commonly found in Mexico. The last known case in the state was in 1991.
People can contract the disease by working closely with infected cows or by drinking raw milk or eating uncooked meat from infected cows. Nearly all milk sold in California is pasteurized and meat is inspected before being sold.