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History of Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance in Indiana Deer


Bovine tuberculosis was eradicated from Indiana in 1984. However, in 2008, bovine tuberculosis was identified in a cow in Franklin County, and several months later in a nearby captive cervid herd of red deer, elk and fallow deer. As a result, the DNR, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services and Veterinary Services began a voluntary hunter-harvest surveillance program in Franklin County to determine if bovine tuberculosis had spilled over into wild white-tailed deer.

In 2011, bovine tuberculosis was detected in a Dearborn County cattle farm. Later that year, surveillance of white-tailed deer was expanded to include southern Fayette, Franklin and Dearborn counties. From 2009-2015, 1,415 wild white-tailed deer from this area were tested and were negative for bovine tuberculosis.

In April 2016, bovine tuberculosis was detected by BOAH and USDA on a cattle farm consisting of two premises in Franklin County. Wild animals were removed and tested from the affected areas, including 20 deer. Sixteen of the 20 deer were tested for bovine tuberculosis, and in August 2016, one deer tested positive for the disease along with one raccoon. In December 2016, a third cattle farm in Franklin County also tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. Genetic testing at the USDA APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) has shown that all of the deer species and cattle infected with bovine tuberculosis in Indiana have been affected by the same strain, indicating a single source of infection.

Current data suggest that bovine tuberculosis has possibly been circulating at extremely low levels in the deer herd since at least late-2008 when the first case was detected. As a result, DNR established bTB management and surveillance zones in southern Fayette, Franklin, and northern Dearborn counties during the 2016 deer hunting season. A total of 2,047 hunter-harvested deer were submitted and tested for bTB. All tested negative for the disease.

Previous surveillance

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Contact Joe Caudell, State Deer Biologist, (812) 334-1137