This summer, I have been doing several different things from state inspections to herd tests. The beginning of my fellowship, I spent time identifying problems that were causing high raw bacteria, high PI counts (preliminary incubation counts), and low freeze points on dairy farms in Michigan and Indiana. In addition, I have started equipment training and testing. I have graphed milk let down and vacuum on individual cows and have identified cows that were not being stimulated properly. These cows ended up with a lag in milk let down and graphs showing mechanical stimulation occurring by the machine before peak flow. Graphing individual cows also showed if the cow had the milker on too long, which leads to teat end damage –hyperkeratosis. Having this damaged teat end leaves space for bacteria and mastitis to develop. I have also graphed pulsators observing for the proper amount of time for the rest phase and transition phases, without the proper timing teat end damage does occur. Some other systems checks I have worked on have been CIP’s (clean in place) watching and testing the bulk tank during the different wash cycles. During these different cycles, I collected the water and tested for alkalinity, chlorine, and pH to insure that the tank has been washing properly.
Working for the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) this summer has been an awesome experience. Both Anthony Klingler and I have been involved with several human and animal diseases. Earlier this month, three confirmed Q fever cases (caused by Coxiella burnetii, if you can’t remember from micro or public health class) have been reported in Monroe and Washtenaw counties. Two of the case patients have been sick since December, and one was hospitalized for nearly two weeks. These cases are all raw (unpasteurized) milk drinkers and are linked to the same cow share program (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_fever; http://www.cdc.gov/qfever/). The farm’s milk also, as told to us by the owner, tested positive for Coxiella burnetii DNA PCR analysis at an out-of-state lab.
For anyone who does not know what a cow share program is…
In many states (including Michigan), the sale of raw milk is illegal due to health concerns http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-index.html. However, most of these states do not prohibit farmers from drinking their own cow’s unpasteurized milk. Therefore, people who want to drink raw milk buy a “share” or part-ownership of a cow at a raw milk dairy and either pick up their milk themselves or get it delivered. These dairies are not regulated by the state. Raw milk drinkers believe that pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria, nutrients, and “enzymes” in the milk.
Anthony and I have had the opportunity to be involved in the outbreak investigation and response. Since locating the common source, MDCH has attempted to work with the owner and Local Health Department to notify all of the cow-share members of the milk contamination and facts about Q fever, its symptoms and transmission (has not gone smoothly). Therefore, recently MDCH sent out a press release in order to inform people in the affected and surrounding counties of the symptoms of Q fever and its potential sources (http://www.annarbor.com/news/q-fever-from-raw-milk-sickens-two-washtenaw-county-women/). The press release and associated stories have been in local newspapers and local news stations (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfYI0HKbkEY). Other departments like the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) are working to advise the owner on control of this disease on her farm. Make sure you read some of the comment following these on-line stories as they are interesting.
Here are some photos from a fish farm we visited recently. The farmer raises hybrid bluegill (male bluegill x female green sunfish) and koi. We took spleen, kidney, and heart tissue samples and sent them to the MSU aquatic animal health lab for surveillance testing. The hybrid bluegill will be tested for viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) and the koi for both VHS and Spring Viremia of Carp….Hannah Vanos
Bovine TB is a large problem in India both in cows and people. The situation is alarming because of the “no-slaughter of cattle” policy in India. Additionally, given the scarce resources in the state, there is a tendency to keep animals with a long production life without culling, increasing their chance of bTB spread. Researchers at Madras Veterinary College are working on developing and implementing new screening tests/strategies to help farmers mange bTB in their farms. The FSF India Students visited the village of Trichy (short for something unpronounceable:) and helped faculty administer, read and interpret skin tests for bTB. While in Trichy, they also took time to visit some of the beautiful temples in the region.
This summer I’ve been collecting lymph nodes and brain stems for the Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance (RSSS). After collection these tissue samples are sent to another lab for scrapie testing. Due to the lamb market seeing record prices there are less animals moving through Michigan slaughter facilities. Luckily this summer I’ve had the opportunity to visit many sheep operations for the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS). NAHMS was begun in 1983 to establish a way to obtain current information concerning the health management of our nation’s livestock (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/downloads/NAHMS_brochure.pdf). Different animals are studied every year and at varying intervals depending upon what information is needed. Sheep are one of the animals being studied this year along with cattle death loss, small scale production, and beef feedlots. Previous NAHMS sheep studies were done in 1996 and 2001 (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/sheep/index.shtml#sheep2001).
The sheep study has focused on the following:
For more info on the NAHMS program, go to this link – http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/sheep/downloads/sheep11/Sheep11_Brochure.pdf
This has been a great experience for me to gain more knowledge in sheep handling and sample collection as well as seeing what an AHPIS Veterinary Services field VMO (veterinary medical officer) does in the field.