A strain of salmonella that has encroached on cattle populations in the Northeast is now easier to detect, thanks to a new test offered by the state Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
The cattle disease, salmonella dublin, damages young and unborn calves and is resistant to many common antibiotics, thus limiting potential treatments. It can also be difficult to diagnose.
Previous testing only identified bacteria in sick animals, so carrier cattle went undetected. But the new Cornell test tracks the presence of antibodies, making it easier for veterinarians and farmers to recognize the disease in time to protect their livestock.
“We’re very concerned about this disease spreading east because it could severely harm animal and human health, as well as the livelihoods of dairies in the region,” Belinda Thompson, senior extension associate at Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center, said in a statement. “Salmonella dublin is already common west of the Mississippi River, but it’s only recently being recognized in the northeastern U.S. We want to be proactive now to keep it out of our farms.”
Salmonella has the ability to pass between species, including humans, but whereas previous tests had to be conducted on individual animals, the new test can use samples from bulk milk tanks to determine if the whole herd has been tainted.
“Herd managers can take preventative measures and help control the infection’s spread by isolating sick calves, pasteurizing milk, managing cattle movement and improving hygiene,” said Thompson. “But to see if any of this is working, they need a tool to monitor success. We didn’t have that until now. This test will let us learn about the prevalence of salmonella dublin on the East Coast and hopefully nip it in the bud.”