Maui News

Hoofed mammal quarantine ordered on Molokaʻi to prevent spread of bovine tuberculosis

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Due to an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis, the state has issued a quarantine order that restricts the movement of all hoofed mammals, with the exception of horses, on Molokaʻi.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine order today for Molokaʻi, restricting the movement of all hoofed mammals, except horses, due to detections of bovine tuberculosis on the island.

The quarantine order was implemented to prevent further spread of the disease on the island and to the rest of the state. The length of the quarantine order period will depend on the success of eradication or control of the bovine tuberculosis.

This island-wide quarantine order is effective today and was prompted by additional detections of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Central and the West End of Molokaʻi in the past few months.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture will be holding an informational meeting for livestock producers, hunters and other interested individuals on April 18 at 6 p.m. at the Lanikeha Community Center in Hoʻolehua. The meeting also will be available to view online. Information will be forthcoming.


Between June 2021 and March 2022, the Department of Agriculture issued quarantine orders on six infected herds in the Central and West End of Molokaʻi. Today’s order expands the quarantine and requires approval and a permit from the State Veterinarian’s office before the movement of any live ungulates, other than horses, from premises on the entire island.

This includes cattle, sheep, goats, swine, deer and antelope. This approval and permit are also required for ungulates, other than horses, transported into Molokaʻi.

The quarantine order does not regulate hunting of feral and wild deer, antelope, pigs, sheep and goats on Molokaʻi. The order also does not prohibit the slaughter, harvest, sale or transportation of meat from livestock, feral or wild deer, antelope, pigs, sheep and goats from Molokaʻi.

“The department’s Animal Disease Control Branch has been working closely with the US Department of Agriculture to prevent the further spread of bovine tuberculosis on Molokaʻi,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaiʻi Board of Agriculture. “However, with recent detections, this quarantine is necessary to help protect uninfected herds on Molokaʻi and also livestock across the state.”

Bovine tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), and cattle are the primary host. Other species of animals, including humans, may also become infected. Although  M. bovis can also infect humans, the transmission to humans occurs mainly in countries with high infection rates of M. bovis and poor disease-control programs.


It has been known to occur on Moloka’i since at least the 1940s. In 1985, the agriculture department made the decision to kill and remove all 9,000 cattle on Molokaʻi in an effort to eradicate bTB. Following the depopulation, Hawaiʻi received “bovine tuberculosis free” status from USDA in 1993, which allowed the interstate movement with no restrictions for bTB. 

In 1997, that status was suspended when a 10-year-old cow on the East End of Moloka’I was found infected with bTB. The entire herd was depopulated and after additional area and contact herd testing, the state regained its bovine tuberculosis free status in 1998. 

In June 2021, a new outbreak of bovine tuberculosis was detected in a small beef herd in Central Molokai (index herd). Testing of a neighboring beef cattle herd found that herd also was infected. The two infected herds were completely depopulated after ranch facilities cleaned and disinfected. The quarantine orders placed on those herds were subsequently rescinded on Dec. 22, 2021.

In November 2021, a second detection occurred during routine monitoring when four swine from a farm on the West End of Molokaʻi were slaughtered. The premises where the swine originated also contained cattle and sheep. Approximately half of the swine herd on this premises and a single cow were found to be infected. The premises was placed under quarantine and depopulated. The source of the infection in the second outbreak continues to be investigated. Swine traced from the index herd to other swine farms in Central Molokaʻi are also quarantined and depopulation is being planned or is ongoing. 


More recently in January to March 2022, more infected herds were detected in both the Central and West End of Molokaʻi.

Wildlife sampling with the aid of local hunters will begin.  It will be important to determine if wildlife are infected outside of the East End of Molokaʻi, where infection had historically been confined. It is presumed that the severe ongoing drought on Molokaʻi resulted in not only weakened immune systems of animals, but also closer association between wildlife and livestock likely resulting in these outbreaks. 

More information on bTB may be found at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.


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