Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 16:23:39 -0500
Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 *Austin, Texas 78711 *(800) 550-8242* FAX (512) 719-0719
Linda Logan, DVM, PhD* Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer,
at 1-800-550-8242, ext. 710, or firstname.lastname@example.org
It's 8 p.m. Do you know where--or how--your cattle (or sheep, goats,
horses or other livestock) are? In this era of heightened awareness about
unusual activities, livestock health officials are asking ranchers to
check their livestock regularly and immediately report signs of disease.
Also, animal owners are asked to report suspicious activities, intruders or
local police or sheriff's department. Llicense plate numbers and
descriptions of trespassers, should be recorded.
"We're urging producers to keep a closer watch on their animals, in light
of recent events in our country," commented Dr. Linda Logan, Texas' state
veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the
state's livestock health regulatory agency. "As always, individual
livestock producers and private veterinary practitioners are our first line
of defense if--or when--a livestock disease is accidentally or
intentionally introduced into the state. The immediate reporting of
suspicious or unusual conditions can make all the difference in our ability
to swiftly diagnose, control and eradicate a disease."
She said ranchers should watch for and report any of these signs:
- Sudden, unexplained death loss in the herd or flock.
- Severe illness affecting a high percentage of animals.
- Blistering around an animal's mouth, nose, teats or hooves.
- Unusual ticks or maggots.
- Central nervous system disorders that cause an animal to stagger or fall.
"Through teamwork, the TAHC and Texas' USDA staff for months has
maintained a 24-hour hot line for disease reporting," said Dr. John Lomme,
assistant area veterinarian in charge of Texas for the US Department of
Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary
Services (USDA-APHIS-VS). "We take reports and dispatch a trained foreign
animal disease diagnostician to collect samples, evaluate the situation and
take appropriate measures to protect livestock health. There is no charge
for the service."
"To report suspicious signs, call 1-800-550-8242. After work hours, follow
the recorded instructions to page a veterinarian," commented Dr. Logan.
"Be prepared to provide a description of the potential disease signs and
information regarding the location, species and number of animals
Dr. Logan pointed out that a joint TAHC and USDA-APHIS-VS "first-strike"
force has been preparing to fight a foreign animal disease outbreak or
natural disaster affecting livestock. Known as the Texas Emergency Response
Team, or TERT, this group can be mobilized quickly to address a disease
"The TAHC also is a full-fledged member of the state's Emergency Management
Council, giving us the ability to call on the resources of more than 31
major state agencies," said Dr. Logan. "In late June, representatives from
more than 22 of the participating agencies gathered in College Station for
a tabletop exercise involving a make-believe outbreak of foot-and-mouth
disease (FMD), a highly contagious foreign animal virus that, most
recently, has greatly damaged the livestock industry in the Great Britain."
"In a livestock emergency, we could tap the manpower of state troopers to
provide roadblocks to stop livestock movement, the National Guard to
provide depopulation assistance and equipment, and the support services of
the Red Cross to feed teams," explained Dr. Logan. She also pointed out
that the TAHC and USDA-APHIS-VS have expanded the network of contacts with
local emergency management coordinators, private veterinary practitioners
and industry liaisons.
"While preparing to fight disease, we can never forget that our most
valuable and cost-effective tool is livestock disease prevention and
surveillance," commented Dr. Lomme. He listed several things livestock
producers can do to help ensure the health of their herd or flock:
* If you travel internationally, don't bring restricted products into the
U.S., such as sausages, hams or other dangerous products that could spread
disease. NEVER allow visitors or family members to bring these items on
* Launder or dry clean clothing and coats before you return to the US.
Shower, wash your hair and put on clean clothes before heading to your
flight home. Viruses or bacteria can be carried in your hair or on your
skin, so it's important to bathe before traveling. Provide arriving
international travelers with a clean set of clothing that can be worn after
* Remove mud and manure from your shoes before journeying back to the U.S!
Ask the Customs agent or USDA official to disinfect your shoes and other
potentially contaminated items if you've been to a farm, zoo or other site
where livestock or wildlife have been commingled. Provide shoes for
visitors, or insist they wear only shoes that have not been worn on a ranch
in another country
* For at least five days before you return to the U.S., don't go around
farms, sale barns, zoos, fairs or other sites where livestock are kept. You
could carry bacteria or viruses in your lungs, throat or nasal passages,
and although you don't become ill, you could spread a livestock disease.
Likewise, don't allow international travelers to have access to your
livestock until they've been in the U.S. for at least five days.
* Report suspicious activities, intruders or circumstances to the local
police or sheriff's department. If possible, record license plate numbers
and descriptions of trespassers.