buffalo, bison, brucellosis, Brucella abortus


Brucellosis is a contagious disease in domestic livestock caused by the bacteria, Brucella abortus. It causes still births after the initial infection. The disease was originally transmitted to wildlife by cattle, and now is found in wild elk and buffalo of the Greater Yellowstone Area. Buffalo in the Greater Yellowstone Area are being slaughtered under the guise of eliminating exposure of domestic cattle to brucellosis from wildlife.

Brucellosis is transmitted by exposure to birth materials or by ingesting infected milk. Although there is a very small chance that buffalo bulls could transmit the bacteria to female cattle during mating, the Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee stated..... ." transmission from buffalo to cattle is almost certainly confined to contamination by a birth event by adult females."

Therefore, non-pregnant females, calves and male buffalo pose virtually no risk of disease transmission. Yet Montana kills all bulls wandering outside of Yellowstone and even shoots calves.


Human beings historically have contracted brucellosis (undulant fever) by ingesting non-pasteurized milk or careless handling of infected carcasses. Meat from infected animals can be safely eaten as long as the meat is adequately cooked. The Centers for Disease Control no longer consider brucellosis a reportable human disease. The chances of humans contracting undulant fever are extremely remote.


There has never been a verified case of transmission of brucellosis from a free-ranging buffalo to range cattle. In 1989, 810 cattle from 18 different herds where Yellowstone buffalo ranged were tested twice for brucellosis infection. No cattle tested positive for exposure to brucellosis. There is some evidence that Yellowstone's buffalo have developed a tolerance for the disease and do not experience many still births. In fact, the Yellowstone buffalo population continues to grow, proof that brucellosis does not limit population growth.


The Animal-Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is charged with controlling agricultural diseases. APHIS has set a goal to eradicate brucellosis by the end of 1998. The current annual budget for the brucellosis eradication program is $60 million.

Under APHIS's rules, if a domestic animal tests positive for exposure, the entire herd is killed.
More than 3,000 (1,000 during the 1996-97 winter alone) buffalo have been killed in the Greater Yellowstone Area since 1984 for the perceived benefit of brucellosis control, despite the availability of a vaccine for cattle.


If MONTANA and APHIS prevail in their current policy, total control over public lands and public wildlife management could be transferred to the agricultural bureaucrats.

If MONTANA and APHIS continue with this policy, an abstract wildlife boundary will have effectively been established to keep buffalo inside Yellowstone. This could set a precedent for all migrating wildlife. Ultimately, Montana, APHIS and agricultural interests could propose a physical barrier around Yellowstone or other National Parks to keep all wildlife "in."

It's only a matter of time before the bureaucrats move to eliminate the Yellowstone elk herd under the guise of brucellosis control. It's impossible to eliminate brucellosis from the Greater Yellowstone Area because all mammalian species can serve as hosts for the bacteria. Only by eliminating all wildlife can the disease be eliminated from Yellowstone

Original Artical

Questions and Answers!!

What is brucellosis?
Brucellosis is a disease that can be spread from infected animals to man. It is caused by bacteria called Brucella.

Who gets brucellosis?
In the United States, brucellosis usually occurs in people who work in slaughterhouses or on farms. Veterinarians may also be at risk for this disease.

How is brucellosis spread?
Humans get brucellosis from animals and not from other people. People usually get brucellosis by handling the tissues, blood, urine, vaginal discharges, aborted fetuses, and placentas of infected animals. Drinking raw milk and eating dairy products made from raw milk can also lead to brucellosis.

What are the symptoms of brucellosis?
A variety of symptoms may appear with this disease. Brucellosis causes a flu-like illness with fever, chills, headache, body aches, and weakness. The fever may go up and down over a 24 hour period (another name for brucellosis is undulant fever). Other symptoms may also occur, including weight loss, loss of appetite, and prolonged fatigue.

How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?
This varies from 5 days to several months. Symptoms commonly appear 1 to 2 months after exposure.

How does the bacteria enter the human body?
Brucella can enter the body through the mouth, nose, eyes, and through cuts or breaks in the skin. Drinking milk that has not been pasteurized or eating dairy products made from raw milk (butter, whipped cream, soft cheeses) may also lead to infection.

How is brucellosis diagnosed and treated?
Early diagnosis and treatment is important. Blood tests are usually required to diagnose the disease. The doctor should be told about any contact with animals or animal products that might be infected. Treatment usually consists of taking antibiotics for three weeks or longer. It is very important to take the medication for the whole time, even if the symptoms go away. Otherwise, you may experience a relapse that might be harder to treat.

How can brucellosis be prevented?
Anyone assisting at the birth of a calf or handling a newborn calf should wear disposable or rubber gloves and coveralls. Rubber gloves should be thoroughly disinfected and coveralls washed in hot soapy water. A disinfectant should be used in cleaning up after assisting a cow with delivery. Any aborted fetuses from a cow should be burned or buried. Only drink pasteurized milk.


A Thank You goes to Inter Tribal Bison for allowing me to use their information.

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