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JOHNE'S INFORMATION CENTER - University of Wisconsin Ñ School of Veterinary Medicine


Certification programs can offer a simple system for buying goats free of Johne's disease.

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Certification programs are useful tools for helping the members of an animal industry control the spread of Johne's disease.
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Herd certification is loosely defined as a program designed to classify herds according to the probability that individual animals in those herds are infected with M. paratuberculosis.

The primary aim of a certification program is two-fold:

  1. Provide a simple system to communicate to buyers the risk of buying an M. paratuberculosis-infected animal.

  2. Stop the spread of this infection to non-infected herds. Herd certification is the foundation of paratuberculosis prevention.

Johne's disease should be considered a herd, not just an individual animal, health problem. Certification programs apply laboratory tests to classify herds by levels of infection ranging from not infected at all to very likely infected. Often such programs have regulations that participating herd owners must follow regarding the sources for replacement animals. These rules are designed to help herd owners avoid bringing M. paratuberculosis-infected goats into their herds without compromising their ability to do business.

These programs can be established by industry associations, state or federal governments or a consortium of participants. For example, Australia has created Johne's disease certification programs for cattle (both beef and dairy), sheep, goats, and alpaca. The program is administered by Animal Health Australia, a novel non-profit corporation with joint funding from animal health industries and the state and federal governments. This program demonstrates that an animal industry need not wait for state or federal initiatives

In Wisconsin, USA the voluntary state program is focused on cattle but also includes the goat species for herd classification based on the percentage of herd that is test-positive by fecal culture. The state hopes to provide an incentive for owners of infected herds to gain control of the infection. Herds are classified A (no test-positive animals) through D (more than 15% of the herd tests positive). This herd classification must be disclosed to a buyer at the time of sale of any animal from the herd. Any herd that is not tested, or does not annually renew the herd classification by testing, becomes classified "Maximum Risk for Johne's Disease" by default.

These programs offer economic value to participants: owners of herds certified as free of the infection usually can command higher prices for their animals. Certification programs are an animal industry's best defense against the spread of Johne's disease and can be designed to meet the needs of any animal industry. Consider supporting a certification program for the health of your animals and your animal industry.

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