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Alberta Board Backs Trich Testing

Trichomoniasis (Trich) was identified in cattle in the 1930’s. “The causative organism was first isolated from the GI tract and throat area in pigs,” says Robert BonDurant, former professor of veterinary reproduction at UC-Davis. “But we don’t know how it got from pigs to cattle. Within the last 10 years it has also been isolated from the GI tract of cats with diarrhea.” Trich might have become accidentally established in cattle and found an ideal environment in the bovine reproductive tract.

Trich in cattle has existed in Europe and South and Central America for a long time. The early attention on reproductive diseases, however, was on eradication of brucellosis. After that was nearly accomplished, scientists developed a vaccine for vibriosis. Then suddenly veterinarians began seeing some of the same signs of reproductive problems, and had to start looking for something else — and realized trich was the problem.

Trich has probably been in cattle a long time, since it is well adapted to the bovine reproductive tract. Vibrio and trichomoniasis mimic each other. The vaccine for vibrio is very effective for that disease, if given at the right time, and the same thing is true with the vaccine for trich. When a herd is having reproductive problems, a diagnosis is extremely important. Then you’ll know whether you are dealing with vibriosis or trich.

In Alberta, one of the 2009 resolutions passed by agricultural service boards requested that either the provincial department of agriculture or federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada investigate the possibility of having trichomoniasis regulations.

The resolution explained: “During development of the new Animal Health Act (AHA) and the new Reportable and Notifiable Diseases regulation (RAND) that came into force on January 1, 2009, the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian (OCPV) consulted with a number of stakeholders. Bovine Trichomoniasis was seriously considered as a disease to include on the list of reportable diseases because of the serious economic implications for affected cattle herds. As well, the new AHA has a provision that allows the Minister to establish a disease control program specifically targeting community pastures and stakeholders were consulted regarding establishing a mandatory Bovine Trichomoniasis control program for communal grazing situations. Representatives of Alberta Beef Producers strenuously argued against such a mandatory control program.

Bovine Trichomoniasis is listed as a notifiable disease in RAND, which means its detection, or the suspicion of its existence, in cattle must be immediately reported to the OCPV. Because it is only notifiable, the OCPV cannot initiate a control response in the event of its detection. Had it been put on the list of reportable diseases in RAND, the occurrence of Bovine Trichomoniasis would have demanded a control response.

If there is sufficient support within the Alberta beef industry to move Bovine Trichomoniasis from the notifiable disease list to the reportable disease list, Alberta Agriculture would consider amending RAND to reflect this request. Alberta’s Chief Provincial Veterinarian, Gerald Hauer, would consider developing and implementing a Bovine Trichomoniasis control program for all community pastures, if not all communal grazing situations in Alberta, if there is sufficient interest within the Alberta cattle industry to support such a program.”

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