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News Release

CountryDateRelease Date

United States

October 30, 2000


Western dairy producers introduce Johne's Disease control proposal

But crucial human health issues missing from plan

The control program in a nutshell

At the fall meeting of the National Johne's Working Group (NJWG) of the United States Animal Health Association, on October 20, 2000, The Western States Dairy Producers Trade Associations (WSDPTA) introduced a proposed control program for Johne's Disease in cattle.

Johne's Disease in cattle is caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) -- a pathogen that is also suspected of causing Crohn's disease in humans.

The program's basic premise is that it is voluntary. No dairy producer will be required to control Johne's Disease on his farm, nor even be required to test his cows for Johne's Disease. Rather, the hope is that a producer will come to believe that it is to his economic benefit to control Johne's Disease on his farm.

The program's goal is to control the spread of Johne's Disease in cattle, now found in over 40 percent of the large dairy herds in the United states, and according to industry experts, will ultimately infect 100 percent of dairy herds -- unless serious countermeasures are taken soon.

For those producers who enter the program, biosecurity measures will be required to assure that cows added to the herd come from "clean" farms, and that calves born on the farm are kept from possible sources of infection.

A key part of the plan is the removal of infected cows from the farm, and a federal government reimbursement to cover the monetary loss to the farmer for culled cows. WSPTA is counting on reimbursement as incentive to farmers to cull infected cows.

Program addresses animal health, not human health

The plan's biosecurity measures for a "program herd." are stringent.

  • Cows from outside the program herd must be kept away from the herd.

  • Manure from cows of infected or even unknown status must kept from the program herd.

  • Feed and water must not be contaminated with manure.

  • Exhibition cows and calves should be hauled in disinfected trailers and kept segregated.

  • Pooled milk from infected cows, or even from cows of unknown status must not be fed to baby calves. BUT -- that same milk may be shipped to market and fed to baby humans.

  • If a cow is found to be infected with Johne's Disease it is to be culled from the herd and shipped to slaughter. BUT -- meat from Johne's-infected cattle is considered fit for human consumption, and is commonly processed into the grades of ground beef used by fast food restaurants.

PARA's proposal to upgrade the plan to protect human health

Cheryl Miller of Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc. (PARA) said, "We at PARA applaud the Western Dairy Producers for taking the initiative with their proposed control program, However we believe that any Johne's Disease control program must protect human health as its top priority. So we offer the following additional elements -- elements that we believe are vital for a truly adequate Johne's Disease control program."

  1. Programs must be mandatory, not voluntary, and must be implemented consistently throughout the U.S.

  2. From the time an animal is diagnosed with JD until it is culled, its milk will not be used (pasteurized or raw) for humans or calves. Milk from these cattle will be disposed of in accordance with policies governing biohazardous waste.

  3. On farms where there have been cattle diagnosed with Johne's Disease (and there might be subclinically infected animals that are not yet "diagnosable" by currently available methods) the milk will not be used for human or calf consumption, even after pasteurization. This milk will be disposed of in accordance with policies governing biohazardous waste.

  4. Pooled milk from cows of unknown Johne's Disease status will not be used to feed humans or calves, even after pasteurization. This milk will be disposed of in accordance with policies governing biohazardous waste.

  5. Culled Johne's Disease infected cattle will not be sent to slaughter houses due to cross-contamination concerns. Beef, beef by-products, and offal from these cattle will be strictly prohibited from entering the food chain in any form, and will be disposed of in accordance with policies governing biohazardous waste.


To find out more about the NJWG, see PARA's NJWG page.

For further information contact

ContactKaren Meyer and Cheryl Miller
Co-Executive Directors, Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.
E-mailKaren --or-- Cheryl

Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.

is a non-profit organization of Crohn's disease patients, their families and friends who are dedicated to the following goals:
  1. To raise awareness of the zoonotic (disease-causing) potential of the bacterium, MAP, in the national community of sufferers of Crohn's disease, in medical, veterinary and food science research communities, in governmental agencies and in the public in general
  2. To urge governmental agencies to directly address control and eventual eradication of MAP from the human environment, particularly from foods of animal origin
  3. To urge governmental and medical research agencies to make funding available for research which will determine the role played by MAP in causing Crohn's disease

Paratuberculosis Awareness and Research Association, Inc.
Box 16219
Temple Terrace, FL 33687-6219

Source:   Contact PARA:
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association