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© 1990, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide discusses paratuberculosis (a costly disease) of cattle, sheep and goats, its causes, clinical signs, transmission, diagnosis and control measures.

Johne's Disease, or paratuberculosis, is a chronic wasting disease that causes considerable production losses in adult cattle, sheep and goats. The disease is caused by Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, a bacterium related to the tuberculosis bacterium Mycobacterium bovis.

This bacterium causes an enteritis (inflamed intestinal tract) that results in severe weight loss and diarrhea. Some animals may be so emaciated (thin, dehydrated) that they are condemned at slaughter; others may suffer from reduced productivity long before clinical (visible) signs are evident.

The prevalence of Johne's disease in the United States, as determined from cattle slaughter, ranges from 2 to 18 percent; it is considered a major problem.