National Johne's Education Initiative Johne's Information Central
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Welcome to Johne’s Information Central —
A Part of the National Johne’s Education Initiative

Welcome to the new Johne's Information Central! We welcome any comments or updated contact information for the website at

New! The Cost of Johne's Disease to Dairy Producers Brochure

Johne’s (pronounced “Yo-nees”) disease is a chronic, contagious bacterial disease that affects the small intestine of ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats, deer, antelope and bison. All ruminants are susceptible to Johne’s disease.

Johne’s disease is caused by Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, a hardy bacterium that embeds itself in the wall of the lower part of the small intestine known as the ileum. As an immune response, infected tissues attempt to regenerate healthy tissue which leads to visible thickening of the intestines. This prevents nutrient absorption, resulting in weight loss. Late in the infection, antibody production by the animal can be found in serum of animals and is an indicator that clinical signs of disease and death from the infection will soon follow.

The occurrence of Johne’s disease was first described in 1908 by Leonard Pearson in a paper, “A note on the occurrence in America of chronic bacterial dysentery of cattle,” (Am. Vet. Rev. 32:602-605, 1908). Pearson published this report while serving as Dean of the veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania, 1897-1909.

Johne’s disease is present among U.S. dairy and beef herds:
Black Baldie

  • Research shows that, today, one out of 10 animals moving through livestock auction facilities has Johne’s disease.
  • Lost productivity due to Johne’s disease is estimated to cost the U.S. dairy industry $200 million to $250 million annually.
  • National Animal Health Monitoring Systems (NAHMS) study, Dairy 2007, shows that 68.1 percent of U.S. dairy operations are infected with Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), the bacteria known to cause Johne’s disease. Dairy 2007 also suggests that at least one out of every four U.S. dairy operations may have a relatively high percentage of Johne’s-infected cows in their herds.
  • Although most U.S. beef herds are not infected with Johne’s disease, it is estimated that eight out of 100 U.S. herds may be infected with this devastating disease.

To reduce the prevalence of Johne’s disease in U.S. cattle, USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Services (VS) spearheads a national, coordinated Johne’s disease effort developed in conjunction with the States and cattle industries. The plan includes a national educational campaign, the Voluntary Bovine Johne’s Disease Control Program and guidelines for States to assist infected herds.

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture has partnered with USDA-APHIS-VS to help educate dairy and beef producers and those who work with these individuals about Johne’s.

Additional information about Johne’s can be found by clicking on other tabs at this website.


A cooperative effort of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services,
 in association with the National Johne's Working Group & United States Animal Health Association

National Johne's Education Initiative
National Institute for Animal Agriculture
13570 Meadowgrass Drive, Suite 201 • Colorado Springs, CO 80921
Phone: 719-538-8843 • Fax: 719-538-8847