Bovine TB outbreak declared a disaster by Alberta government

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association says a ranch in the southwestern part of the province is under quarantine.
File photo. File / Global News

Citing “the economic losses and hardship” caused by the bovine tuberculosis outbreak among Alberta cattle this year, the Notley government officially declared the problem a disaster in a release issued Thursday.

Concerns about the contagious disease first surfaced in late October when dozens of southeastern Alberta ranches were quarantined after bovine tuberculosis was reported in a single cow from Alberta that was slaughtered in the United States.

READ MORE: Dozens of Alberta ranches quarantined for bovine tuberculosis

Since then, the outbreak has resulted in about 26,000 cattle at farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan being quarantined.

READ MORE: 6 things to know about the bovine tuberculosis outbreak in Alberta, Saskatchewan

Late last month, federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said the government will provide up to $16.7 million in compensation to western ranchers impacted by the quarantine.

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The money is geared toward helping with feed for animals, transportation, cleaning and disinfection as well as interest costs on loans.

According to federal officials, at least 10,000 cattle will be slaughtered as a result of the outbreak with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) saying the animals are considered “high risk” for contracting or transmitting the infectious disease.

READ MORE: 10,000 cattle to be killed after bovine tuberculosis outbreak

Watch below: On Nov. 29, 2016, Meaghan Craig filed this report about the thousands of head of cattle set to be slaughtered as a result of the bovine tuberculosis outbreak.

Click to play video 'Thousands of head of cattle set to be slaughtered in bovine tuberculosis outbreak' Thousands of head of cattle set to be slaughtered in bovine tuberculosis outbreak
Thousands of head of cattle set to be slaughtered in bovine tuberculosis outbreak – Nov 29, 2016

With Alberta declaring bovine tuberculosis a disaster, the province is able to increase its operating expenses beyond what was previously budgeted. The government will provide emergency financial relief to producers through the federal-provincial AgriRecovery Framework. To actually gain access to the financial help available to the, ranchers will go through programs offered by the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation.

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The CFIA also has information for producers on how to apply for compensation on its website.

According to the CFIA’s most recent update Wednesday, to date there have been six confirmed cases of the disease, a number which includes the cow that had the disease when it was slaughtered in the U.S.

The agency said all confirmed cases “are still from one infected herd located on 18 premises.”

As of Wednesday, the CFIA said 40 of the total of 45 premises that remain under quarantine are in Alberta with the remaining five in Saskatchewan.

The total number of premises currently under quarantine and movement controls is approximately 45. Movement controls have been removed from animals at six low risk premises where appropriate testing has been completed.

READ MORE: Bovine tuberculosis quarantine grows, but no new cases: CFIA

The CFIA said all farms under quarantine will be subject to on-farm testing and that it expects that process to be completed early next month.

The last round of reactor animals that were humanely slaughtered showed no lesions or other clinical signs of the disease,” the CFIA said in its update. “This is encouraging but is not confirmation that the animal does not have bovine TB. Confirmation that an animal does not have TB can only be provided by confirmed negative results of a culture test.”

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-With files from Quinn Campbell and The Canadian Press.