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New Techonology Helps Fight Cattle Disease

Molecular testing rapidly diagnoses Johne's disease

MONDAY, July 29, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Purdue University scientists have developed molecular testing methods to more quickly diagnose a widespread cattle disease.

Johne's disease is an often fatal infection that causes weight loss, diarrhea, and wasting. It inflicts about $1 billion in losses on the U.S. cattle industry each year. The disease affects almost 25 percent of the nation's dairy herds.

It used to take 12 to 16 weeks to get a final diagnosis of Johne's disease. But when the new molecular tests developed by the Purdue researchers are used with a new, automated incubation unit, the organism responsible for Johne's disease can be identified within two to three weeks.

"Having the molecular techniques and this fast, large-capacity system, we will be able to handle a lot of samples in a shorter time frame. This combined technology can identify clean herds and maintain their disease-free status by preventing the introduction of infected animals," says researcher Ching Ching Wu, a microbiologist with Purdue and the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

Johne's disease isn't limited to dairy and other cattle. Deer, sheep, elk, goats, antelope, and bison can be infected by the disease.

A vaccine reduces symptoms and extends the life of animals with Johne's disease, but it can't prevent infection.

More information

The Food and Drug Administration has more on another deadly disease that strikes cattle.

SOURCE: Purdue University, news release, July 19, 2002
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