Trichomoniasis—a sexually transmitted disease in cattle that leads to early embryonic losses and infertility—is spreading across the country and is an economic threat to the beef industry. Trich is tricky because, although bulls and cows are carriers of the disease, they show no outward signs of infection. Thus, herds can be infected and their owners not know it. Because seedstock and cow-calf producers only know that more cows are open and calving late, infected breeding animals might unwittingly be sold to others.
While 23 states require mandatory testing for bulls to prevent the spread of trich—and more states have trich regulations in the making, there is inconsistency in individual state requirements. Additional inconsistencies among states occur in other areas such as the collection of samples, shipping and handling of samples and laboratory procedures.
The National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the U.S. Animal Health Association are partnering to provide the beef industry with a one-day “Joint Forum on Trichomoniasis Standards” on Thursday, April 3, in Omaha, Neb. The Forum will give state veterinarians, animal health officials, laboratory personnel, beef industry leaders and other interested individuals the opportunity to interact and discuss challenges and identify solutions regarding more standardization of rules and testing procedures intended to prevent the introduction of trich into beef herds.
“Trichomoniasis results in significant economic impact to the cattle industry, and right now there is a wide variation between states in regulations and testing,” states Dr. Carl Heckendorf, Colorado Dept. of Agriculture, and co-chair of the “Forum on Trichomoniasis Standards.” “These varying and ever-changing rules between states make compliance difficult and confusing.
“Now is the time to standardize—or at least harmonize—state regulations, collection of samples prior to shipping, shipping and handling of samples and laboratory procedures. To achieve this harmonization, industry leaders, diagnostic laboratory veterinarians, animal health officials and others would need to meet, talk openly and candidly and hammer out what will work and is best for the industry.”
Dr. Bud Dinges, clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine, and co-chair of the April 3 Forum, agrees with Heckendorf.
“We have a lot to learn from each state, and I look forward to this opportunity to learn what’s working and not working in various states and progress from there,” Dinges states.