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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Virginia Johne's Disease Control Program.

Dairy Pipeline: April 2004

Andy Overbay
Extension Area Dairy Agent,
Southwest Virginia
(276) 223-6040 email:

Local veterinarians and the area dairy agents have recently received training on the State's new Johne's Disease Prevention and Control Program. Johne's is a deadly disease that attacks the cow's small intestine causing inflammation that reduces and then finally eliminates the infected animal's ability to absorb nutrients from feed. MAP is the bacteria most widely claimed to cause Johne's. MAP takes up to 8 weeks to grow in a laboratory so it is difficult to diagnose. Many different species of animals can contract and shed Johne's causing organisms. Included in these animals are: deer, bison, rabbits, and monkeys, so you can see the ability to contract this disease is pretty widespread. There has been speculation that Johne's is linked to Crohn's Disease in humans, but that has NOT been verified. The most prevalent way to introduce Johne's into an animal is by the ingestion of fecal material from shedding animals. MAP can live in tap water for over 500 days! In short, cleanliness is paramount to preventing the spread of Johne's in your herd. You may begin by signing up with your vet to become a certified herd. During the initial year of joining the program, all information regarding identifying your operation is protected by anonymity. Your herd is issued a number and only your veterinarian knows whose farm matches which number. You also receive some monetary help to offset the vet's time in testing animals and inspecting your farm. All inspection visits include your vet and a certified program implementer, namely your dairy extension agent or county agent. If you have any questions regarding certifying your herd as being enrolled in a Johne's Control Program, please contact me at (276) 223-2542 or your veterinarian.

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