Marty Zaluski, State Veterinarian

Montana Department of Livestock

What's the latest on US trichomoniasis regulations?

As of July 2014, 26 states have interstate trichomoniasis (trich) regulations, with nearly that many different regulatory requirements. But unlike Baskin-Robbins® ice cream, variations in trich regulations for different states make life more complicated. Areas where states’ regulations differ generally fall into four categories:

a)  Type of test — culture or polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
b)  Duration of test-negative status — usually from 30 to 60 days
c)  Whether pooling of samples is accepted
d)  Age of bulls that can be exempted from testing — usually from 12 to 24 months of age

This jigsaw puzzle of rules creates a burden on interstate commerce. Because the bull-testing protocol depends on the state of destination, bulls can’t be tested until after sale — when the state of destination becomes known. Bulls must be held for days after the sale while samples are collected and processed by the laboratory, preventing animals from leaving with buyers post-sale, which increases costs on both sides.

Is this confusion and additional cost necessary? Why is there no national agreement on interstate regulations?

Fundamentally, regulations have no standard because when rules were created, there was no national consensus. Absent a technical advisory group or federal standard, states wrote regulations based on their experience with trich and input from state stockgrower groups.

Fortunately, there is growing interest in making trich rules for interstate commerce more consistent. If this is successful, sellers will no longer have to wait until after a sale to test bulls to tailor the testing to the buyer’s state requirement. The standardized testing protocol can be done before the sale making the several-day, post-sale hold on bulls unnecessary. Laboratories will no longer need to hold individual samples from pools already testing negative for states that demand an individual sample test.

Ultimately, meeting interstate regulations will be easier, resulting in fewer errors, greater compliance, lower feed costs and decreased travel costs for buyers, and greater simplicity for veterinarians. Finding agreement is more important than whether we settle on an 18- or 24-month age limit or a variety of other details.

Let’s get this done.

Marty Zaluski joined the Montana Department Livestock as State Veterinarian in August of 2007. In this position, Dr. Zaluski established the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) which enhances testing of cattle that are at risk of brucellosis from infected wildlife. Dr. Zaluski has been engaged in the use of brands in traceability discussions and emerging disease events including trichomoniasis, bluetongue in sheep, anthrax in domestic bison, and Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1).

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