Farm Progress

What is being called an atypical case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been confirmed in one Alabama beef cow.

July 19, 2017

2 Min Read
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What is being called an atypical case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been confirmed in one Alabama beef cow.

John McMillan, commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, said his department is working with USDA officials to address the positive test in an eleven-year old Alabama cow.

An atypical BSE case, according to a statement by McMillan’s office, is a rare and spontaneous incident. The animal was discovered during routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market. This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to food supply or to human health.

Following delivery to the livestock market, the cow later died at that location. Routine tissue samples were taken and sent to diagnostic laboratories in Colorado and Iowa for testing and confirmation. The results were confirmed for atypical BSE at the USDA laboratory in Ames, Iowa. 

Unlike previous cases of classical BSE, this case is not the result of ruminant by-products being fed to ruminants. The United States banned the use of such protein supplements in cattle in 1997. In 2009, the USDA implemented the enhanced surveillance testing programs to protect animal and human health. Included in the regulation was the removal of specified risk materials - or the parts of an animal that would contain BSE - from all animals presented for slaughter. Another important component of the system - which led to this detection - is the ongoing BSE surveillance program that allows USDA to detect the disease in the U.S. cattle population.

“The Alabama beef industry is vital to our state’s agriculture economy,” said McMillan. “The response to this case by USDA officials and our department’s professionals led by state veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier has been exemplary. This instance proves to us that our on-going surveillance program is working effectively.”

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