The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Services (VS) is announcing the addition of axis deer (Axis axis) to an existing project to evaluate the effectiveness of the Dual Path Platform (DPP) as an official primary test and secondary test for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in captive, farmed, and free-ranging mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and sika deer (Cervus nippon).

Evaluation of the DPP test in axis deer will begin immediately and end when a sample size of 306 individual animals has been reached. The project will utilize serum samples submitted by Designated Accredited Veterinarians for herd TB certification or interstate movement purposes. Samples will be collected and submitted in a manner consistent with the requirements of established Veterinary Services policy and will be considered official cervid TB tests. The non-negative cut-off value for the DPP in axis deer will be the same as the cut-off for both Mule and Sika deer, set at an optical reader value of 200 reflective light units. Each captive or farmed cervid in this project that has non-negative test results to this initial DPP test will be classified as a suspect and retested with the DPP test no sooner than 30 days after the initial sample collection date. Each captive or farmed cervid that tests non-negative on the second DPP test will be classified as a reactor. Reactor animals will be euthanized and necropsied with tissue samples collected and submitted for laboratory testing in accordance with 2005 TB UM&R, III.A. Contact your local Veterinary Services office for specific submission instructions.

If a bTB-infected axis deer-farmed herd is detected during the project, a herd management and testing plan will be developed based on an individual herd’s disease history and movement patterns. The plan will be designed by a state or APHIS representative with the herd owner to determine livestock disease status and eradicate bTB within the herd. The State Animal Health Official and the VS Area Veterinarian in Charge must jointly approve the plan. Indemnity for individual animal and herd depopulation will be contingent upon available funding. In addition to the herd plans, Veterinary Services personnel, in collaboration with State animal health officials, will collect and submit additional whole herd blood samples for storage at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) serum bank. These samples may be used for further research and evaluation of bTB serologic tests.

Project Monitoring/Evaluation Plan: For this project, if more than two reactors are identified in the first 100 samples during the pilot project, and all animals classified as reactors are found not to be affected by bovine tuberculosis based on necropsy, histopathology, PCR, and culture, the project will be suspended and re-evaluated to evaluate sample size and/or sample bias. A project report will be distributed annually to State Animal Health Officials and VS officials. The report will summarize the project accomplishments, including the number of tests performed, the number of DPP suspects, the number of reactors, and necropsy findings.

For inquiries, please contact the VS Cervid Health Team at For more information on bTB in cervids, visit the Cervid Health Bovine Tuberculosis webpage. To receive other announcements related to cervid health, please register for cervid stakeholder announcements through GovDelivery and select the “Deer and Elk (Captive/Farmed)” topic.

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