Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are working to eliminate a pair of costly cattle diseases.
The Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Organization (VIDO) is using funding from Genome Canada to develop vaccines for bovine tuberculosis and an intestinal condition known as Johne’s disease.
Bovine tuberculosis attacks an animal’s lungs in much the same way as the human variant of the disease.
Dr. Volcker Gerdts, VIDO’s associate director of research, said there are already bovine tuberculosis vaccines on the market. He said the problem is that current products cause vaccinated animals to test positive for the disease itself. Those positive tests mean animals can’t leave the country. Gerdts said destroying both infected animals and other animals that have had contact with an infected cow remains the protocol for dealing with the disease.
Overall, Gerdts estimated that bovine tuberculosis costs the global cattle industry about $3 billion.
Johne’s disease affects a cow’s intestines. Gerdts said the chronic condition is often noticed in the dairy sector, but can affect meat animals as well. Gerdts said the disease causes animals’ production to drop off over time, forcing a producer to get rid of the cow.
There are currently no vaccines for Johne’s disease on the market.
Johne’s is thought to cost North American cattle producers about $1.5 billion annually.
Gerdts said the work on both vaccines is being conducted with the help of researchers out of the University of British Columbia.
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