Bovine Johne's Disease

Johne's disease, otherwise known as paratuberculosis, is a chronic wasting disease of ruminants (cattle, sheep etc).

Johne's disease is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (M. paratuberculosis). Different strains of the bacteria usually affect different animals:

  • Bovine Johne's Disease (BJD), caused by bovine strains of M. paratuberculosis, affects mainly cattle, goats, deer and alpaca.

  • Ovine Johne's Disease (OJD), caused by ovine strains of M. paratuberculosis, affects mainly sheep and goats.

For both strains there is usually a long incubation period with clinical disease occurring only in older animals. There is no effective treatment and affected animals become emaciated and eventually die or are destroyed.

BJD is endemic in Australia, although the disease is not common. BJD is a notifiable disease in all Australian states and territories. The disease can have serious economic effects, particularly in dairy cattle, due to production losses if it is not controlled.

A national approach to the management of Johne's disease has been agreed by key stakeholders including Australian livestock industries, government and the veterinary profession, and is managed by Animal Health Australia.

The Animal Health Committee, as the key government technical committee on animal health, provides technical policy advice in support of the national approach. As a part of this it:

Further information about Johne's disease, BJD and its control in Australia is available on the Animal Health Australia website.