Vaccination is important in human health; but that doesn’t mean that only people need to be vaccinated. Vaccinating animals for diseases that can be spread to humans is a critical part in keeping all species healthy. While rabies vaccination of pets is one that most people are familiar with, Bang’s vaccination of cattle plays just as critical of a role.
Bang’s vaccination started because of a nasty disease that people contracted from raw milk called Undulant Fever, caused by a Brucellosis bacteria. While there are a lot of awful things associated with this disease, the big key is it causes wicked hot fevers that flow through your body like a wave. It is one way for men to truly experience the joys of menopause.
Now obviously pasteurization has greatly lowered the risk of this infection, but why just clean up the product when you can go after the cause? And so, that’s why in 1934 the U.S. Government initiated the Brucellosis Eradication Program to eliminate the disease from our cattle herds. At the time, 11.5% of cattle had the disease. Which, considering that affected cattle can give it to humans that touch them, means a lot of farmers had Undulant Fever.
A critical part of this program was to vaccinate female cattle before they reached breeding age. This part of the program is still in operation today to ward off the re-introduction of the disease to cattle, and thereby keeping it from humans.
The vaccine is only given under the direct supervision of a federally accredited veterinarian (like me!). The heifer is not only vaccinated, but given a tattoo that shows the year of vaccination, and a metal ear clip that gives her a unique ID number. This is because in the event of an outbreak, there is no way to tell the difference between a vaccinated animal and an infected animal, so two forms of ID are used to make sure the vaccinated animals are properly identified. A signed record of the vaccination is sent to the federal government. This is all outlined in a very simplistic 121 page reference guide.
With all this effort, one would think we’d have kicked Brucellosis in the butt by now. Unfortunately, while it is no longer in cattle we still see it in bison and wild elk populations in the Yellowstone area. While US Fish and Wildlife, as well as state Game and Parks Departments, are working hard to manage the disease these populations, we still need to practice Bang’s Vaccinations in cattle to keep this disease from spreading back into the food supply. Because in the end, that is what our #1 goal–healthy and safe dairy and beef.
2nd Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco#mediaviewer/File:Disco_ball4.jpg