WASHINGTON, April 24 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an adult dairy cow from central California.  The carcass of the animal is being held at a rendering facility in California that collects tissue samples for testing as part of the federal government’s ongoing BSE surveillance program, Dr. John Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer told reporters at a hastily-arranged briefing.

“The animal did not enter the human food chain,” Clifford emphasized, “so there’s really no concern for alarm here with regards to this animal,” which will be destroyed.  The age and breed of the cow were not disclosed, nor was the farm where it was located. 

He described the case as atypical, meaning the animal most likely did not contract the brain-wasting disease by eating infected feed.

“We will be conducting an investigation (and) as we find more information, we will be transparent and open with it,” the USDA official said.

USDA has begun notifying trade partners of the discovery but Clifford said there should be no adverse impact on U.S. beef exports. 

 "This detection in no way affects the United States' BSE status as determined by the OIE," he stressed.  "The U.S. has in place all of the elements of a system that OIE has determined ensured that beef and beef products are safe for human consumption: a mammalian feed ban, removal of specfied risk materials, and vigorous surveillance."

BSE has been on the decline worldwide since peaking about two decades ago.  In 2011, 29 cases were diagnosed around the world.     


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