Canada confirms case of mad cow disease

August 16, 2008

Canada confirmed a case of mad cow disease in a six-year-old beef cow on Friday, marking the 14th instance of the disease since the country’s first case in 2003.

Ruminant-to-ruminant feeding (meaning cows being fed leftover cow meat, something they would never choose to eat) has been blamed for the arrival of BSE in Canada, assuming a BSE-infected and rendered animal entered the cattle feed supply before the feed ban took effect.

In June, a five year old dairy cow was confirmed as Canada’s 13th BSE case and was very likely exposed to “a very low amount of infective material, probably during its first year of life.”

There was no risk to public health because no part of the animal entered the human food systems, the Canadian Food inspection agency said.

The agency said it is tracing other cattle in the herd and trying to determine how the cow became infected. The new case should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef, the agency said.

Mad cow disease, medically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, causes spongy holes in the brain. Among humans, a rare but fatal form of the disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has been linked to eating infected tissue from cows.

The agency has said a ban on using animal materials in feed products has virtually eliminated the spread of BSE in Canada, but it said a small number of cases are still expected to surface.,


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