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USDA Awards $8.8 Million for Animal Disease Research

Wayne Baggett (202) 720-4623
Marti Asner (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2004-Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that USDA will contribute $8.8 million to two international research collaboratives seeking to control and eliminate Johne's disease in cattle, sheep and goats and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or PRRS, in swine.

"These grants will support critical research, education and extension activities to develop practical applications against these diseases," said Veneman. "We are pleased to partner with the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine on this project."

These diseases cause more than $800 million a year in losses to the industry and the consuming public.

"Project collaborators include more than 100 scientists and education experts from two dozen institutions in 20 states as well as experts in Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia," said Joseph J. Jen, USDA undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

PRRS first appeared in the United States in 1986 and is found worldwide and in all major swine producing areas of the United States. PRRS results in reproductive failure in adult females and pneumonia in nursing pigs and can lead to death. It spreads easily among herds.

Johne's disease is a chronic, infectious, wasting disease of cattle. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea and weight loss, decreased milk production, reduced fertility, and eventually death. An estimated 22% of all U.S. dairy herds are infected with Johne's disease.

Funding for the research was provided by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA's leading research and education funding agency.

A website will be established for each research project soon after the awards are made. The media contact at the University of Minnesota is Molly Portz, 612-625-2640.