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Current Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance in Indiana Deer

2019 Bovine Tuberculosis sampling

During the 2018-19 hunting season, 89 hunter-harvested deer from the Franklin County surveillance zone were sampled for bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Previously, 541 hunter-harvested deer were sampled during the 2017-18 season, and 2,047 were sampled during the 2016-17 season. To date, all 2,677 hunter-harvested deer sampled have tested negative for bTB. These results suggest that, through the 2018–19 hunting season, the prevalence of bTB in wild deer within the Franklin County surveillance zone has remained at levels that were difficult to detect and was likely very low to non-existent.

As a result, the Indiana DNR will not conduct intensive bTB surveillance in Fayette and Franklin counties during the 2019-20 hunting season. However, Indiana DNR will still conduct targeted surveillance of deer if they are reported to be exhibiting signs of bTB and recommends that hunters continue to inspect the chest cavity of harvested deer for lesions. If lesions are found, hunters should contact an Indiana State Board of Animal Health veterinarian by calling 877-747-3038 or visit boah.IN.gov.

What happens when a deer is submitted for bTB testing?

The lymph nodes in the neck and head are removed and submitted to two different laboratories for testing. Samples are sent to the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) at Purdue University where they are examined microscopically for infection with bTB bacteria. Results from this initial test are typically available in two to three weeks and will be posted online within a few days of receipt by Indiana DNR.

The samples are also submitted to the National Veterinary Services Lab (NVSL) for a more conclusive test known as a culture. Culturing is the most reliable way to test for bTB and increases confidence in the overall surveillance effort. If bTB bacteria are present, the cultured samples will grow the bacteria under controlled conditions. However, because bTB bacteria grow very slowly, test results may take three to four months to complete. The results from the culture test will be posted online as soon as they are available.

Hunters may view results for a submitted deer. If the result is positive, DNR will contact the hunter who submitted the deer.

What if a deer tests positive for bTB?

Indiana DNR has established a response plan if a wild white-tailed deer tests positive for bTB. The response will depend on the sex and age of the infected animal and the genetics of the bTB bacteria found in that deer.

  • If a single buck tests positive for bTB and the genetics of the bTB indicate that the deer was infected from a bTB-positive farm prior to 2015:
    • DNR will determine the precise location where the deer was harvested.
    • No additional deer will be removed for control purposes.
    • Surveillance efforts will increase the next year, centered on that location.
  • If a single doe or fawn tests positive for bTB OR if a single buck tests positive for bTB, AND the genetic strain of the bTB indicates that the deer was infected from any known positive bTB farms (2016 or later):
    • DNR will determine the precise location where the deer was harvested.
    • Biologists will identify the maternal and/or buck groups that use the area where the infected deer was harvested.
    • Maternal and/or buck groups whose home ranges overlap with the identified area will be removed. A group of deer may consist of eight to 25 deer.
    • Surveillance efforts will increase the next year, centered on that location.

More information

Questions?

Contact Nancy Boedeker, Wildlife Veterinarian 317-234-9617