Case of mad cow disease surfaces

Canada is dealing with a new case of mad cow disease. The dairy cow discovered in Alberta brings the number of cattle that have been found in Canada with the fatal brain disease to 18 since 2003.

EDMONTON — Canada is dealing with a new case of mad cow disease.

The dairy cow discovered in Alberta brings the number of cattle that have been found in Canada with the fatal brain disease to 18 since 2003.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the case in the six-year-old cow on Feb. 18, but the agency didn’t plan to make it public until March 10.

“The Government of Canada is committed to protecting human and animal health, and a full investigation, following international guidelines, is underway,” the agency said Friday in a news release.

“No part of the animal’s carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems.”

Right now, Canada is categorized as being a controlled risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy — the scientific term for mad cow disease.

To apply for negligible risk status with the World Organization for Animal Health, a country has to have no cases for 11 years after the birth year of the youngest animal diagnosed.

John Masswohl of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said the new case should not hurt Canada’s global beef trade. He said Canada should still be able to apply for negligible risk status in 2015.

The farm where the dairy cow was found is under quarantine as officials test the feed and other animals in the herd for the disease.

Dr. Gerald Hauer, Alberta’s chief veterinarian, said any animals that were born on the farm or shared the same feed as the infected cow will be destroyed.

“Public health was clearly protected here. There is no risk from this cow. It is extremely unlikely that you would get a second case on the farm,” he said.

Hauer said the producer who owned the cow noticed something wrong with the animal and called his vet. A sample from the animal was sent to Alberta Agriculture for testing. The province then forwarded the sample to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for confirmation of the disease.

The agency says Canada continues to intensively monitor cattle most at risk for BSE and more than 313,000 cattle have been tested since 2003.

It also says it expects a small number of additional cases of mad cow disease will be found as Canada works to eradicate BSE.

The CFIA said it planned to post information about the latest BSE case on its website on March 10 even though information about the infected cow was common knowledge in the industry for the past two weeks.

The agency also plans to report the case to the World Organization for Animal Health.

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