Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in Michigan Bovine Tuberculosis Activities Report 2003.


Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious bacterial disease and poses a risk to domestic livestock, wildlife and public health in the United States (U.S). In 1917, the U.S. government began a comprehensive national bovine TB eradication program. The disease has been nearly eradicated from livestock in the U.S., but areas of infection resurface periodically. Michigan was declared free of bovine TB in 1975 and received Disease Free status in 1979. In 1975 a free-ranging white-tailed deer in Alcona County was confirmed to be bovine TB positive. It was thought to be an anomaly, and no policy was adopted to look for the disease in additional animals.

The 1994 discovery of bovine TB in a free-ranging white-tailed deer in Alpena County, and the subsequent detection of TB in additional deer, cattle and several other mammalian species in Michigan led to a coordinated comprehensive disease eradication program in the Michigan Departments of Agriculture (MDA), Community Health (MDCH) and Natural Resources (MDNR). The State of Michigan Bovine TB Eradication Project then joined forces with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Michigan State University (MSU).

This Activities Report provides an update on the efforts of the Bovine TB Eradication Project partners.

Over the past few years, bovine TB eradication policies have greatly impacted the farming, travel, tourism and hunting communities. Agriculture stakeholders were concerned about the rate and mode of transmission from wildlife to cattle, as well as the economic impact that the loss of the federally accredited TB Free designation would have on the cattle and dairy industries. In 1998, there was concern that the disease was spreading via wildlife to geographic regions other than Northeast Lower Michigan. At the time, surveillance methods to determine how the disease was dispersed in wild white-tailed deer were limited.