Bovine Tuberculosis



Since the early 1990’s, Manitoba has experienced the occasional case of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle. The majority of cases have occurred in an area around the Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP). In the late 90’s an increasing number of elk were also discovered with TB in the same area.

It is now thought wild elk in the RMNP area may be acting as a wildlife TB reservoir causing the occasional spillover into domestic livestock. The level of infection appears to be low in the elk.

Due to the pattern of TB occurrence, Canadian Food inspection Agency (CFIA) changed Manitoba’s "TB–free" status to "TB accredited" in 1997. With the previous Canadian policy, changes in status were given to a whole province even if the disease was occurring only in one area.

To combat the TB problem in Manitoba, a TB Management Task Force was formed in 2000 as a co-operative effort between MAFRI, Manitoba Conservation, Parks Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the 2002/2003 Manitoba Bovine Tuberculosis Management Plan 2002/2003 Manitoba Bovine Tuberculosis Management Plan was created.

Key elements of the TB management plan include:

  • reducing contact between elk and cattle
  • reducing the elk herd in Riding Mountain National Park by about 50 per cent, especially in areas where TB in wildlife is more prevalent
  • installing barrier fences to protect stored winter feed supplies
  • improving habitat in Riding Mountain National Park to entice elk to stay inside park boundaries
  • enforcing Manitoba Conservation regulations on baiting elk for hunting purposes
  • studies to enhance knowledge of elk movements and behaviour patterns

On July 17 2002 Canada received notice that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed Manitoba’s TB status.

The notice came into effect August 17, 2002 and requires cattle and bison, of breeding potential, that have been in the province of Manitoba to have negative TB testing before they are exported. Steers, spayed heifers and slaughter animals of all types would not require testing. This would exempt the majority of cattle and bison (~200,000 head in 2001) exported to the United States from Manitoba. Intact feeder heifers going to the States at this point would require TB testing (3,000 to 6,000 head/year).

On December 5, 2002 amendments to the Health of Animals regulations were passed which would allow the creation of a zone around Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) with a different TB status then the rest of Manitoba and Canada. The amendments will come into effect January 1, 2003. On that date the CFIA will split Manitoba into two areas and re-classify their TB status according to the new criteria as follows:

  • Riding Mountain TB Eradication Area (RMEA) Game hunting areas 23 and 23A (see the Map of TB Positives 1991-2002, PDF 178KB), and will be upgraded from its current TB-accredited status to the new TB-accredited-advanced status; and
  • Manitoba TB Eradication Area which will consist of the remainder of the province (approximately 90% of Manitoba cattle herds) and will be upgraded from its current TB-accredited status to TB-free status

On January 1, 2003 CFIA will require cattle/farmed bison in RMEA to have:

  • a CFIA permit to move out of the area
  • if animals being moved are of breeding potential and over 60 days of age, their herd of origin must have had a whole herd test (CFIA) in the last 3 years; or a negative individual TB test in previous 60 days (at owner’s expense)

Animals are exempt from TB requirements (permit still required) if they belong in one of the following categories:

  • steers, spayed heifers
  • all animals going directly for slaughter (not though auction/assembly yard)
  • animals under 60 days of age
  • animals only temporarily moved into RMEA

Animals that are considered only temporarily moved into RMEA are:

  • animals being pastured only during summer (May 1 to October 31)
  • sale/show animals if other animals at event only come from TB qualified herds in RMEA
  • auction/assembly if all other animals on premise come from qualified herd in RMEA, or have been TB tested negative within 60 days
  • feedlot if all other animals only come from TB qualified herds in RMEA and have not resided in feedlot for more than 4 months if > 24 months
  • veterinary clinic if only being moved for medical treatment, surgery, etc

There are 4 major types of permits CFIA will issue (at no charge):

  1. Qualified Herd Permit
    • good for one year
    • requires whole herd TB test in previous 36 months
    • or sooner depending on how eradication program evolves
  2. Individual Animal Permit (non-qualified herds)
    • good for 30 days if do not require a TB test
    • good for 60 days if do require an individual TB test
  3. Single-Use Special Permit
    • Summer Pasture Permit: good from May1 to October 31 of that year
    • Special Event Permits (shows, etc): good from issue date until expiry date
  4. Multi-Use Permits
    • Feedlot Permits: good for one year
    • Auction/Assembly Permits: good for one year
    • Veterinary Care Permit: good for one year

CFIA expects to have 80% or more of the herds tested within the RMEA by January 1, 2003 and the remainder to be done at least before July 2003 (estimated 45,000-55,000 testable cattle/bison in area).

Zoning will not immediately change the import requirements by the U.S. for Manitoba cattle. It is only after the zoning program has been in place for several months, will the US decide on whether it is adequate. This may take 6 months to a year or more before they will accept the remainder of Manitoba as having TB-free status.

TB used to be one of North America’s most common causes for livestock production loss. Control programs have been very successful in eradicating the disease from most areas of the continent. With the hard work and co-operation of all parties, most importantly livestock producers, Manitoba should be successful. For more information on bovine tuberculosis please see the following sites: