Articles: Press Release
Comments Sought on Proposed Cattle "Trich" Program for Texas
Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 * Austin, Texas 78711 * (800) 550-8242 * FAX (512) 719-0719
Bob Hillman, DVM * Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550-8242,
ext. 710, or email@example.com
Ranchers, cattle owners, veterinarians and other interested persons
are encouraged to comment on Texas' proposed regulations to control
Trichomoniasis, or "trich," a venereal disease of cattle that causes
the early death of fetuses and abortions, resulting in infertility in
cows and extended breeding seasons in a herd. The comment period for
the proposed regulations by the Texas Animal Health Commission will
end January 30, 2009.
"Trich infection often occurs when a producer unknowingly introduces
into the herd a trich-infected bull, which in turn, infects cows
during breeding. Likewise, infected cows can transmit the disease to
'clean' bulls, creating a cycle of disease. Cattle experts say that
the extended breeding seasons, loss of a percentage of the calf crop,
and strung-out calf crops resulting from trich infection can cause up
to a 20 percent loss of herd income," said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas'
state veterinarian and executive director of the Texas Animal Health
Commission, the state's livestock and poultry health regulatory agency.
"In the absence of a national trich control or eradication program,
all western states, except Kansas and Texas, have taken regulatory
action to prevent the introduction of infected bulls, and to control
the spread of this cattle disease within their states," said Dr. Hillman.
"After being approached by the Texas cattle industry regarding the
need for Texas trich regulations, the 13-member governor-appointed
TAHC commission appointed a working group of cattle industry,
veterinarians, university and allied representatives to provide
recommendations to the TAHC on the components and implementation
strategy for a proposed Texas Trichomoniasis Program. The working
group met in September and made recommendations to the commission on
the components of a proposed trich program. A proposed Texas trich
program has been developed from these recommendations, focusing on
breeding bulls," he said. TAHC commissioners are seeking public
comments on the proposed trich rules, which will be published in the
Texas Register by November 28, 2008, so the input may be considered
prior to their February 24, 2009, commission meeting in Austin.
"The Texas Trichomoniasis Program, as proposed, would roll out in two
stages," explained Dr. Hillman. "The first stage could go into
effect in late March 2009 and would place new entry requirements on
bulls entering Texas from other states. Breeding bulls would have to
be officially identified and certified as virgin bulls, or be tested
negative for trich within 30 days prior to entering Texas from any
state. Bulls could be certified as virgins until they were about 18
months old, as evidenced by the eruption of permanent incisors, and
accompanied by a breeder's statement that the animal had not been
commingled with heifers or cows. Bulls entering Texas without
certification as virgin or proof of negative trich tests would be
restricted to sale or movement for slaughter only."
Culturing the trich organism is the 'gold standard' for testing
bulls. In nearly all states with regulations, accredited private
veterinary practitioners must be certified to collect a sample from
the bull, and the laboratories must be approved to conduct trich
tests, Dr. Hillman explained. The system specified for Texas is the
InPouch, which allows for the sample to be collected, then incubated
in the pouch. The cultured sample is microscopically examined while
it is still in the pouch. Another test, the Real Time Polymerase
Chain Reaction test (RT-PCR) also be can run on the incubated sample.
"According to the proposed regulations, all the non-virgin bulls in a
herd could be tested at the same time, and if results are negative,
this single test would be sufficient for Texas import purposes for
any of the bulls in the tested herd," said Dr. Hillman. For
individual bulls not part of a whole herd negative test, three
consecutive negative culture tests would be required, at least seven
days apart; or two negative RT-PCR tests performed at least seven days apart.
"One positive test indicates that the bull is infected," he
said. In most states, a positive-test bull may undergo a
confirmatory test before being classified as infected and restricted
to slaughter only.
"Repeated tests are needed on individual bulls, due to the difficulty
in collecting the tiny trich protozoa from the surface folds of the
infected bull's reproductive organs. Oftentimes, a second or third
attempt is needed to either assure the absence of trich, or to
capture the organism in the collection pipette, so it can be
cultured," explained Dr. Hillman. "If an entire bull herd is tested,
statistically the disease, if it is present, should be detected on a
single test of all bulls in the herd."
"There is no effective treatment for infected bulls. To halt the
spread of disease, these animals should be culled. As infected bulls
age, they become persistently infected, as the surface tissues of the
reproductive organs become more hospitable to the growth of the trich
protozoa," explained Dr. Hillman.
"On the other hand, most infected cows can recover from the disease,"
he said. The trich protozoa, which can colonize in the vagina,
cervix, uterus and oviducts, will clear, if the animals are given
three to four heat cycles of sexual rest. A small percentage of cows
will not clear, and these cows should be culled. A cow's disease
status can be identified through a veterinary examination of the
Under the proposed regulations, trich would become a reportable
livestock disease in Texas, requiring both negative and positive test
results to be reported within 48 hours. Acquiring negative data is
as important as positive results when determining the prevalence and
distribution of the disease within the state. This information would
be invaluable for determining the future direction of the program,"
The second phase of the proposed Texas Trichomoniasis Program would
be effective no earlier than September 2009. Prior to changing
ownership in Texas, breeding bulls within the state would be required
to be officially identified and certified as a virgin bull or undergo
the testing process for trich. Infected bulls would be restricted to
slaughter, or movement through a livestock market to slaughter.
"This second phase would fulfill the program objective to stop the
spread of trich within the state," said Dr. Hillman. "When infected
bulls are removed from the picture, the disease cycle can be broken."
The negative trich tests for Texas-origin bulls would be valid 150
days, provided the animals were not commingled with female cattle
from the date of the test until being sold.
As proposed, said Dr. Hillman, the Texas Veterinary Medical
Diagnostic Laboratories in College Station and Amarillo would serve
as the official laboratories for the program, and Texas accredited
veterinarians could be certified to collect the samples. The bull's
owner or seller would be responsible for costs associated with virgin
certification or testing of bulls. Laboratory fees are about $5 for
the InPouch culture test and $25 for the RT-PCR test.
"When the commissioners proposed the regulations, they wanted to
allow ample time for the Texas cattle industry to prepare for
implementing the second phase of the trich program," said Dr.
Hillman. "This is a new disease program, so time also is needed to
provide information to Texas accredited veterinarians, who must be
familiar with the program requirements, testing and reporting
procedures, and documentation."
"To ensure that the trich program continues only as needed, the TAHC
commissioners added a final, very important caveat to the proposed
regulations," said Dr. Hillman. "The proposed Texas Trichomoniasis
Program would undergo an annual review by a Trichomoniasis Program
Review Working Group, which would consist of representatives from the
cattle industry, veterinary college and profession, university and the TAHC."
"We are available to discuss trich and the proposed program
regulations at industry, producer or veterinary meetings, classes or
association gatherings," noted Dr. Hillman. To arrange for a
speaker, contact the nearest TAHC area office or call the TAHC Public
Info Office at 800-550-8242, ext 710.
In addition, a fact sheet is posted on the TAHC web site, and the
text of the proposed TAHC regulations will posted on the TAHC web
site after November 28, 2008. This information also can be faxed,
emailed or mailed upon request by emailing
calling the TAHC Public Info Office at 1-800-550-8242, ext
710. Written comments regarding the proposed trich program
regulations must arrive at the TAHC no later than January 30,
2009. Comments may be emailed to
firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to
512-719-0179, or mailed to: TAHC Comments, Box 12966, Austin, TX 78711-2966.