WASHINGTON, July 19, 2017 - The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced on Tuesday an “atypical” case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in an 11-year old cow in Alabama.
The animal “never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States,” APHIS said. It’s the fifth time that BSE, a neurologic disease of cattle, has been found in the U.S. Of the four previous U.S. cases, the first was a case of “classical BSE” that was imported from Canada; the rest have been atypical BSE.
Atypical BSE “generally occurs in older cattle, usually 8 years of age or greater,” APHIS said. “It seems to arise rarely and spontaneously in all cattle populations” but at a very low rate. Classical BSE, which is caused by consumption of infected feed, is the type that swept through the United Kingdom in the 1990s. APHIS said that the Alabama detection, because it involves atypical BSE, will not change the United States’ negligible risk status under World Organization for Animal Health standards, and should not lead to any trade issues.