Processing Magazine

USDA confirms mad cow disease case in California

April 25, 2012

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture''s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation''s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as Mad Cow Disease, in a dairy cow from central California, USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford announced Tuesday.

The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed. It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE.

Samples from the animal in question were tested at USDA''s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Confirmatory results using immunohistochemistry and western blot tests confirmed the animal was positive for atypical BSE, a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.

Despite the confirmation, USDA believes its systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working.

"Evidence shows that our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working, as are similar actions taken by countries around the world,” Clifford said. “In 2011, there were only 29 worldwide cases of BSE, a dramatic decline and 99% reduction since the peak in 1992 of 37,311 cases. This is directly attributable to the impact and effectiveness of feed bans as a primary control measure for the disease.”