Agriculture Press Release

April 2, 1998

Florida Reaching Brucellosis-Free Status

TALLAHASSEE The initial step to declare Florida free of brucellosis, a highly contagious disease of cattle and humans, has been reached with the publication of an interim rule and request for comment in the Federal Register, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced today.

A final certificate of "free" status will be awarded in June.

"Despite Floridas previous high rate of infection and a climate which offers no barrier to the spread of the disease, we were able to advance from Class A to Class Free status in less than six years, when history indicates it usually takes 10 years to do so," Crawford said.

Brucellosis, a major threat to Floridas $2.7 billion cattle industry, is a highly contagious bacterial disease of the reproductive tracts of cattle that causes cows to abort their calves, disrupts their breeding cycle and reduces milk production. It is contagious to humans as "undulant fever" through exposure to infected organs or unpasteurized milk or milk products from infected cows. When humans or other animals contact the disease, they cannot transmit it to others.

Although brucellosis has been a multimillion-dollar annual problem for the cattle industry, it has posed no threat to consumers who purchase dairy or meat products due to modern processing techniques and the requirement that milk in Florida be pasteurized. The interim rule designating Florida brucellosis-free culminates years of cooperative effort to insure complete eradication of the disease. The Accelerated Brucellosis Eradication Program was begun in 1980 as a combined effort of the cattle industry and state and federal agencies. In 1980, Florida had more than 28,300 infected cattle.

Florida will become the 42nd state to achieve brucellosis-free status. The eight states that remain in Class "A" status include Texas and neighboring Georgia and Alabama.

"While Florida is extremely proud of this accomplishment, we must be vigilant in our monitoring and surveillance activities," Crawford said.


For More Information:

Dr. Leroy Coffman
(850) 488-7747

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