Idaho's cattle industry is celebrating the state's return to brucellosis-free status, reducing restrictions on cattle exported from the state.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture made the announcement earlier this week after a year of testing to make sure there were no additional cases of the bacterial infection that can cause infected animals to abort fetuses. The disease, originally introduced by cattle to wild elk and bison in the West, is now prevalent in many wild herds, although rare in cattle. While wildlife officials across the West have been working to eliminate the infection among wild animals, it continues to be spread through exposure to aborted material.

Mixing of wildlife and domestic cattle is often blamed for cattle infections.

A case of brucellosis was discovered in a herd near Sun Valley last year, prompting the downgrading of Idaho's brucellosis status. Infection in cattle herds can mean heavy restrictions for cattle exports, expensive tests and entire herds may be destroyed to prevent further spread of the disease.

"I couldn't be prouder of the way cattle producers, animal health officials and wildlife managers have pulled together to address this important disease issue," said Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in a written statement.

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