Frequently Asked Questions

What is brucellosis?
What are the signs of infection in cattle and domestic bison?
Can brucellosis infect humans?
How is brucellosis transmitted?

How much of the state is infected with brucellosis?

What are "test eligible" animals?
Who is authorized to collect samples for brucellosis testing?
What will testing cost me?
What do I have to do to send my cattle to another state?
Can I still use my interstate grazing permit?
What are the cattle and domestic bison vaccination requirements?
How do I get my cattle or domestic bison vaccinated?

What can I do to prevent brucellosis in my cattle and domestic bison?
Can brucellosis be transmitted to animals other than livestock?



What is Brucellosis
Brucellosis is an infectious disease of animals and humans caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. Cattle brucellosis can cause abortion, infertility and sterility, resulting in economic loss to the producer. The state has rules administered by the Department of Agriculture, IDAPA 02.04.20, Rules Governing Brucellosis, which address brucellosis in cattle and bison specifically.



What are the signs of infection in cattle and domestic bison?
Most of the time there are no signs. Cattle may abort late in pregnancy, or give birth to weak or sick calves. In extreme cases, brucellosis can cause arthritis in the joints.



Can brucellosis infect humans?
The main risk for humans to become infected with brucellosis is through contact with reproductive fluids - placental and fetal fluids - from infected animals. Although there is a possibility for brucellosis to be transmitted through milk or meat, the pasteurization of milk and the cooking of meat destroy the bacteria. Any infection risk in humans is primarily in people who work with cattle and are exposed to potentially infected fluids.
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How is brucellosis transmitted?
The major sources of infection are reproductive (mainly fetal and placental) secretions and mammary secretions (milk) from infected animals. Brucellosis can be transmitted through ingestion of or contact with aborted fetuses and infected calves. Brucellosis can be transmitted from bull to cow through natural mating; however, this is very rare.



How much of the state is infected with brucellosis?
Currently there are no known infected cattle herds in Idaho. However, there are some infected elk in a small portion of eastern Idaho.


What are "test eligible" animals?
Test eligible animals are all sexually intact cattle and domestic bison 18 months of age and over, and all parturient and postparturient cattle and domestic bison, regardless of age.



Who is authorized to collect samples for brucellosis testing?
Any federally accredited veterinarian licensed to practice in the state of Idaho can collect samples for official brucellosis testing at the state laboratory. Most, if not all, large animal veterinarians are federally accredited.



What will testing cost me?
The costs for tests run at the state laboratory are not charged to producers. However, the costs associated with collecting samples for testing will vary. Contact your veterinarian for a list of fees associated with brucellosis sample collection. Through a USDA grant, veterinarians will be reimbursed for testing of cattle within the DSA.
                                                                                                                                              
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What do I have to do to send my cattle to another state?
When you obtain your Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (commonly known as a health certificate), your veterinarian will need to contact the state veterinarian in the state of destination to find out if there are any requirements in addition to the federal requirements. Some states have more stringent requirements for animals leaving the DSA.



Can I still use my interstate grazing permit?
For any cattle and/or domestic bison going out of Idaho, contact the state of destination to determine if they will be continuing to honor grazing permits.



What are the cattle and domestic bison vaccination requirements?
All intact female cattle and domestic bison whose intended use is breeding, dairying or grazing must be vaccinated against brucellosis between the ages of 4 and 12 months.
                                                                                                                                              
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How do I get my cattle or domestic bison vaccinated?
Any federally accredited veterinarian can perform vaccination for brucellosis. Contact your veterinarian to set up an appointment for vaccination.



What can I do to prevent brucellosis in my cattle and domestic bison?
The best way to prevent brucellosis from infecting your herd(s) is to ensure that your herd is 100% vaccinated, as required by state law, and do not allow any feed-line contact between wild elk and your cattle or domestic bison during the winter. This is especially important in eastern Idaho, where infected elk could be aborting and leaving infected fluids in a cattle winter feeding area.



Can brucellosis be transmitted to animals other than livestock?
In rare instances, brucellosis can be transmitted to horses and other animals. These animals, however, cannot transmit the disease to other animals.


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If you have a question that is not covered here, please contact ISDA at (208) 332-8540.