Bovine venereal disease causes cattle quarantine - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Bovine venereal disease causes cattle quarantine

Michelle Galimba has about 2,500 head of cattle on her Kuahiwi Ranch in Kau. A disease has infected some of the herd.

"It's carried in the reproductive tract of bulls that are over a certain age," she said.

Bovine trichomoniasis is a venereal disease, mostly found on ranches in the western part of the mainland. It's been found on nine ranches in the state that are now under quarantine.

"Infected herds are located in a few geographic areas: South Point, Naalehu, Kau, North Kohala. And we have one infected herd on Oahu," said Jason Moniz, Veteran Program Manager for the state's Animal Disease Control Branch.

The disease spreads from bull to cow during the breeding process. It causes a pregnant cow to abort the fetus or a fetus to mummify in the cow's uterus.

"This disease can cause losses in the range of thirty to seventy percent. That's a pretty severe loss," Moniz said. "If you've got 100 cows, you're counting on 90 to 95 calves, and you end up with 30 or 70.' That's a big loss."

Trichomoniasis cleans itself up in 120 days. Then a cow can breed again. But the disease remains in an infected bull.

"So they maintain the infection, and when they go back in for another breeding season, they spread the infection again in the herd," Moniz said.

"If this is discovered in the older bulls, there's really no cure for it," Galimba said. "They have to be slaughtered."

She has slaughtered 20 animals this year -- twice what she normally would.

The quarantines started in April of last year. It's been a double whammy for Big Island ranchers dealing with drought.

"That in itself can cause reduced pregnancy rates and reduced calf crops," Moniz said.

Bovine trichomoniasis doesn't affect meat quality. It can't be spread to humans.  Since it was spotted in the state, only one ranch has been able to rid itself of the disease.

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