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For Immediate Release: January 26, 2006


HONOLULU – An informational meeting on bovine tuberculosis (TB) on Molokai will be held next week to update ranchers, hunters and other interested parties on surveillance and testing activities on the island.  The meeting is being held by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Animal Industry Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) on Thursday, February 2, 2006 at Kaunakakai School Cafeteria at 7:00 p.m.  The public is invited.

The meeting will be attended by veterinarians from HDOA and USDA and bovine tuberculosis experts from Washington State and Colorado.

“The department’s continuing efforts to monitor and test for bovine tuberculosis and other diseases are important for the health of Hawaii’s cattle and dairy industries,” said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “Maintaining USDA’s bovine tuberculosis-free status for Hawaii is also crucial for the cattle export businesses.”

Bovine TB is caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), and mainly affects cattle; however, other species such as humans, pigs and deer may infected. M. bovis is related to but not the same bacterium as Mycobacterium tuberculosis which causes most of the human cases of tuberculosis.  Although the primary impact of bovine TB is economic due to restrictions on animal movements and additional testing required for movements, infected animals may also be a public health concern.

Bovine TB was found in Molokai livestock since at least the 1940’s. After several infected cattle herds were detected on Molokai in the early 1980s, HDOA made the decision to depopulate all cattle on Molokai in 1985 in an effort to eradicate bovine TB and more than 9,000 cattle were removed from Molokai.  Following the depopulation, Hawaii received “bovine tuberculosis-free” status from USDA-APHIS in 1993, which allowed the interstate movement with no restrictions for TB. 

In 1997, the state’s TB-free status was again suspended when a 10-year-old Molokai cow was found infected with bovine TB.  It is suspected that the cow was infected by feral pigs carrying the disease.  The entire herd was depopulated and Hawaii regained its bovine TB-free status in 1998. 

Since then, wildlife surveys have continued on the island and have revealed that feral swine populations are serving as a reservoir of the disease at a prevalence of one percent (five positive cases out of 482 tested.)  

Currently, HDOA and USDA require annual testing of cattle herds from eastern Molokai for bovine tuberculosis.  Testing requirements only apply to eastern Molokai since other areas of the State remain free of the disease.  No infected cattle have been found on Molokai since the case detected in 1997.

The meeting will also include discussions of future surveillance testing and control measures for managing bovine TB on Molokai.


For more information, contact:

Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560
[email protected]