Bovine Johne’s disease halts cattle exports to Japan

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has been advised by the Japanese authorities that they have temporarily stopped accepting feeder and breeder cattle from Australia in response to some cattle testing positive for Bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) in post arrival quarantine.

Bovine Johne’s disease
Photo credit: Ryan Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

Bovine Johne’s disease is a chronic disease that is found in all major cattle producing countries in the world.

Australia is a trusted supplier of live cattle to many markets worldwide and Japan is a highly valued trading partner. The department is working closely with Japanese authorities to resolve the issue.

An investigation is being undertaken by the department to confirm that the consignment of 300 cattle from Victoria were prepared according to the importing country requirements.

The department continues to liaise with industry and exporters to keep them informed on the progress of the investigation.

The department has also contacted Japanese authorities to request a bilateral technical meeting to discuss the issue and ensure it is resolved in a timely and effective manner.

Japan is Australia’s only international live cattle export market that is actively eradicating Bovine Johne’s disease and has Sanitary or Phytosanitary (SPS) justification in applying strict import controls for this disease.

Australia’s other live cattle export markets are unaffected by Bovine Johne’s disease prevalence.

Bovine Johne’s disease

In cattle, the main signs of bovine Johne’s disease are diarrhea and wasting. Most cases are seen in 2- to 6-year-old animals. The initial signs can be subtle, and may be limited to weight loss, decreased milk production, or roughening of the hair coat. The diarrhea is usually thick, without blood, mucus, or epithelial debris, and may be intermittent. Several weeks after the onset of diarrhea, a soft swelling may occur under the jaw. Known as “bottle jaw” or intermandibular edema, this symptom is due to protein loss from the bloodstream into the digestive tract. bovine Johne’s disease is progressive; affected animals become increasingly emaciated and usually die as the result of dehydration and severe cachexia.

Signs of Bovine Johne’s disease are rarely evident until two or more years after the initial infection, which usually occurs shortly after birth. Animals are most susceptible to the infection in the first year of life. Newborns most often become infected by swallowing small amounts of infected manure from the birthing environment or udder of the mother. In addition, newborns may become infected while in the uterus or by swallowing bacteria passed in milk and colostrum. Animals exposed at an older age, or exposed to a very small dose of bacteria at a young age, are not likely to develop clinical disease until they are much older than two years.



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