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Animal Health

GoatsThe Tennessee Department of Agriculture works to ensure a healthy, growing animal industry. TDA partners with state and federal regulators, private veterinarians and livestock industries with programs aimed at preventing, controlling and eradicating certain infectious or communicable diseases of livestock and other domestic animals. Activities include administering eradication programs for brucellosis, tuberculosis, scrapie and pseudorabies, along with the control program for equine infectious anemia. TDA also enforces the laws and rules regulating interstate and intrastate movement of animals.

Animal Health Alerts

Animal Health Message From the Commissioner of Agriculture

Dear Livestock Partner,

The ongoing highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 outbreak has been devastating to the U.S. poultry industry and is one of the most costly national animal health disasters on record. While this particular disease incident affects poultry, we all know that there are disease risks that could just as easily devastate other livestock sectors.

I want to assure you that we at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture are monitoring the situation and doing everything we can to prepare for the likelihood that this poultry disease is detected here in our state. I thought it would be of interest to you, as a livestock representative, to be aware of the current situation and how we are responding. Many of the plans and practices that we have in place are similar to what would occur with other species.


Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed HPAI H5 in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. The disease has been found in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry flocks. To date, 21 states have been affected including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa being heavily impacted and declaring a state of emergency. At this time, HPAI still has not been detected in Tennessee.

Nearly 50 million birds have been affected and USDA response efforts alone have costs more than $400 million. There have been no human cases associated with this incident. The outbreak appears to be slowing; however, this incidence is far from over. Migratory birds appear to be the main harbinger of the virus, so there is a strong chance for recurrence and spread of the disease in the fall as waterfowl migrate south.

Tennessee's Response:

  • The state has an Initial State Response and Containment Plan (ISRCP) for the control of H5/H7 avian influenza. The plan covers a wide range of responses and protocols for quarantine, testing, disposal, cleaning, disinfection and monitoring. Tennessee's plan includes the use of an Incident Command System to coordinate response and recovery activities by both state and federal animal health officials. With TDA as the lead agency, planning has been done in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Health, USDA, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and Tennessee's commercial poultry industry.
  • Tennessee Avian Health Advisory Board is serving as the Tennessee Emergency Management Committee (EMDC). The committee comprises representatives of poultry companies, the Tennessee Poultry Association, the Tennessee departments of Agriculture, Environment and Conservation, and Health, USDA-APHIS and UT Extension. The EMDC regularly convenes and since March has conferenced three times for updates on the current outbreak and to recommend protective actions. The EMDC assists TDA and would make recommendations concerning repopulation, movement of poultry and poultry products and quarantine status.
  • In addition to the normally scheduled Avian Influenza emergency preparedness exercise that is conducted every five years, TDA, TEMA, Health and the Tennessee One Health Committee will conduct a table top exercise and workshop in the coming weeks.
  • While there is no evidence that this strain of avian influenza is communicable to humans, the Tennessee Department of Health is a major partner and is intricately involved in planning and response activities. This includes monitoring responders for flu-like symptoms, providing consultation on preventive measures, epidemiological and laboratory support, personal protective equipment training and veterinary medical supply management.
  • In response to a request for assistance from the state of Minnesota, TDA has sent one staff veterinarian and two animal health technicians to assist with that state's response efforts. Not only does this provide much needed assistance for a state that has more than 105 HPAI quarantined premises, but it provides an opportunity for real-life incident training for our personnel. We anticipate sending additional teams in the near future.
  • We are fortunate that Tennessee's State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher is the current president of the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials (NASAHO). As president, he conducts weekly conference calls between NASAHO and USDA-APHIS and is in regular communication with other states as to their protective and response activities. This gives our state a decisive advantage in keeping up with the latest developments.
  • On March 12, TDA issued an Animal Health Advisory to make poultry growers and owners aware of the avian influenza outbreak and remind them of biosecurity measures to protect their flocks. Additional advisories and information will be posted on the department's website as needed. The department is also reaching out to fairs and 4-H agents across the state to remind them about animal health regulations and recommended biosecurity practices.
  • Each year, TDA's Kord Animal Health lab tests approximately 22,000 samples from poultry for avian flu. This includes routine surveillance and testing for commercial and backyard flocks and for the National Poultry Improvement Plan program. Additionally, the U.S. Wildlife Services conducts testing on waterfowl. We will continue surveillance and will consider increasing the number of samples tested as needed.

In summary, I want you to know that our department is focused on animal health and protecting the livestock industry that is so critical to our state's well-being and economy. I believe we are well prepared to respond to and manage any disease incidence. You are an important part in this effort and can play an especially vital role by helping us communicate the facts of our planning and response efforts. We want to encourage producers to continue to practice and strengthen biosecurity measures and to report any unusual bird deaths.

For more information on recommended biosecurity practices for commercial or backyard flocks, visit

For the latest information on the current U.S. avian influenza outbreak, visit the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's website at

As always, we welcome your input on how we can better serve you and protect our industry. Feel free to contact the State Veterinarian's Office at 615-837-5120 should you need assistance or more information.

Julius Johnson, Commissioner
Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) in West Tennessee - The state veterinarian is advising horse owners of two new confirmed cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA) in West Tennessee. A horse stabled in Gibson County tested positive for EIA. Follow-up testing confirmed the positive results and the horse was humanely euthanized. A horse in Henderson County has been confirmed as positive for EIA, however it has not yet been decided if that horse will be euthanized or quarantined for life. Veterinarians are testing additional horses that were stabled with or near the infected animals.

With these latest cases, a total of six horses have been diagnosed with EIA in Tennessee in 2015. Two horses in Henderson County were euthanized. Two EIA-positive mules from Henderson County have joined a research herd at the National Veterinarian Services Lab in Ames, Iowa. Although they must remain in permanent quarantine with other EIA-positive equines, they will live an otherwise normal life and receive excellent care. As part of the research herd, they will contribute blood samples to be used in efforts to develop treatment and a potential vaccine for EIA.

EIA is a viral disease most commonly transmitted by biting insects. Although an infected horse can run a low-grade fever or become lethargic, often there are no clinical signs. A horse remains infected throughout its lifetime and can pass the disease to other horses. Owners of EIA-positive horses have two options: lifetime quarantine of the animal or euthanasia. A yearly Coggins test will screen for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of EIA. State law requires a negative Coggins test for any horse that is transported from its home farm to any event or other location.

To ensure the safety of your horse, make sure its Coggins test is current and that your animal does not have close contact with any horses that are not up-to-date. Cleanliness in and around your barn and a manure management plan can also help reduce the fly population. The state veterinarian and staff are focused on animal health and disease prevention through disease testing and surveillance.

Tennessee normally experiences a few cases of EIA each year. For more information, contact your local veterinarian or the state veterinarian's office at 615-837-5120.

Avian Flu Advisory - March 12, 2015 - The state veterinarian is advising owners of poultry flocks of an avian influenza outbreak affecting nine other states. Read more.

Animal Disease Traceability - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now conducting routine compliance checks for the federal Animal Disease Traceability rule, which requires appropriate documentation and identification of livestock being transported across state lines. The goal is to quickly identify and stop the spread of illness in the event of a disease outbreak.

The rule took effect 2013 and the department launched an educational outreach to producers, haulers, and veterinarians. The only difference now is that the department will enforce compliance.

Producers should consult with their veterinarians to determine specific import requirements for the destination state and the livestock being shipped.

Many documents, including certificates of veterinary inspection (health papers), equine passports and Coggins tests are now available electronically, providing time and cost savings to owners.

Animal Health Links

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) - The VMLRP will pay up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a NIFA designated veterinarian shortage situation for a period of three years. For further information, visit or contact Dr. Sara Clariday at the State Veterinarian's Office at or (615) 837-5120.

Companion Animal Parasite Council - The mission of CAPC is to foster animal and human health, while preserving the human-animal bond, through recommendations for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of parasitic infections.

Dog and Cat Dealer Licensing and Animal Friendly Grant Program

NOTE: The Dog and Cat Dealer Licensing Program and Animal Friendly Tag Grant Program have been transferred to the Tennessee Department of Health. To inquire, call toll free 1-877-403-7350 or local to Nashville at 615-532-7350.

Orders of the State Veterinarian and Approved Forms of Identification

Agency Services