COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced last week that Linda Hickam is Missouri's new state veterinarian. A native of Columbia and graduate of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, Hickam is now responsible for keeping Missouri's livestock healthy and disease free.
"One of our short term goals involves educating the public and raising awareness of trichomoniasis," Hickam said.
Trichomoniasis or "Trich" is a venereal disease caused by a parasite in breeding bulls, whose semen can infect cows and cause infertility. Trichomoniasis in cattle shouldn't be confused with trichomoniasis in people, which is a human venereal disease caused by a different parasite.
According to the Center for Disease Control, cattle Trich generally doesn't hurt people. However, in July 2011 the CDC found a rare case in which a 52-year-old man living on a farm was diagnosed with the same trich that harms cattle.
Under Missouri law, all adult bulls entering the state or being sold in Missouri must be tested for Trich, and if found to be infected, they must be quarantined or slaughtered.
There is no testing requirement for cattle that will be slaughtered.
"It is important for our producers and for veterinarians throughout the state to get ahead of this disease to protect the livestock industry," Hickam said.
As state veterinarian, Hickam will lead the Division of Animal Health, an arm of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, which works with the cattle industry to ensure that all meat and dairy produced in the state is safe for marketing.
According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the state's livestock industry includes 4.25 million cattle, 3 million hogs, 73,000 sheep and 200,000 equines.
Taylor Woods was the previous state veterinarian. Woods will remain at the Department of Agriculture as a senior advisor and assist the new state veterinarian, according to an MDA press release.