When Tuberculosis Hits Cows

Bovine tuberculosis is a progressive wasting disease. It affects mainly cattle but also sheep, goats, pigs and other animals. People who get bovine TB have to take strong antibiotics for up to nine months to cure them.

Humans can get sick from infected cows by drinking milk that has not been heated to kill germs. Another risk is eating meat that has not been cooked to seventy-four degrees Celsius.

[…]

In the early twentieth century, bovine TB probably killed more animals in the United States than all other diseases combined. To control it, the government launched a highly successful testing program. Historians say animal doctors ordered the destruction of about four million cattle between nineteen seventeen and nineteen forty.

But currently, the state of Michigan in the Midwest is fighting an outbreak of tuberculosis in cattle. Experts identified wild deer as the source of infection. More recently the neighboring state of Minnesota has also had to deal with TB in cattle and deer.

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