Update on Backlog of Cervid TB Blood Test Kits

June 23, 2017

The North American Elk Breeders Association offers this update for American elk owners that have experienced long delays in TB blood testing. 
In the spring, NAEBA announced several times that the TB blood testing lab reported testing kits were backordered for months, leaving thousands of cervid blood samples in line to be tested. This was a point of high contention for our membership in late winter/early spring, when many herds were performing recertification testing. Our announcement informed members of the long lines and suggested they might consider using the skin test.  At the time, many had already performed the blood test, incurring hundreds or thousands of dollars in vet expenses. Many states have reported they would not penalize herds for the lack of available test kits and honor their anniversary date if the samples were submitted but not yet tested. 
Now it is several months later and our members are already calling our office because they plan to move trophy bulls out of state in August. This is just six to eight weeks away. They are calling because they did a TB whole herd test via blood in February and are still waiting in line. Understandably, they are now concerned they will not be able to move their elk in August without individually testing each elk leaving the state with the TB skin test. In essence, they have lost their herd status until their blood test results are validated.  As you know, testing hard antler bulls during late summer is the very reason most producers enroll in the voluntary certification program. 
To be clear, this backlog is out of the hands of NAEBA, state animal health departments and USDA APHIS. NAEBA, among other stakeholders, has consistently pressed the lab to catch up on the testing. 
In order to provide our membership with as many options as possible, NAEBA has reached out to several state veterinarians to determine what consideration can be made. As a current practice, states usually allow the whole herd test to be administered within 90 days on either side of their anniversary date. 
Because this situation is out of the hands of our producers, several state veterinarians have stated they would be willing to consider temporary extensions beyond the 90 days of TB Herd Accreditation for movement purposes on a case by case basis (for both exporting herds or importing herds in other states), for long standing accredited herds in areas that have no TB in free ranging and no active investigations in adjacent livestock herds. These state veterinarians request you start this process now or give at least two weeks' notice for state departments to consider your request. Remember, each state could handle this differently. Once the blood test results finally come in, your accreditation will be renewed for the next three-year cycle. 
To be clear, if you are an owner caught in this backload and need to move animals this summer or fall, NAEBA recommends you do not wait for the backlog to clear. NAEBA recommends you either contact states you intend to ship to and ask them if they would consider allowing you to ship in August or September or proceed to skin test individual animals you plan to ship this fall. 
Thank you for your understanding. 
Please click the link below for a list of state animal health departments.

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