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Canada Has Suspect BSE Case

Multiple screening tests have yielding positive results on 10-year-old dairy cow.

Canada's national surveillance program has detected a suspect case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a 10-year-old dairy cow from Alberta.

On Dec. 17th a local veterinarian identified the suspect animal as a downer animal on a farm. That vet then forwarded the sample to a screening lab to Edmonton on Dec. 23rd.

On Dec. 28 and 29th two Bio-Rad tests results yielded non-negative results. Canada officials duplicate Prionics rapid tests also yielded non-negative results on Dec. 29th. Confirmatory results are expected in two to four days with an immunohistochemistry test.

A statement from Canada says no part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems. The suspect animal was detected through the national surveillance program.

Similar to the two North American BSE-infected animals detected in 2003, this animal was born before the Canadian and American feed bans were introduced in 1997. If BSE is confirmed in this case, consumption of contaminated feed before 1997 remains the most likely route of transmission.

Trade not expected to be disrupted if confirmed positive

Canadian senior staff veterinarian Dr. Gary Little says, should the suspect case prove to be positive, there is an "expectation it will not impact the rulemaking process."

Canada officials did inform USDA before the U.S. agency announced the rule on Wednesday, Dec. 29. Dr. John Clifford, U.S. deputy administrator for veterinary services, said at that time if there was an additional case in Canada that USDA could take any appropriate action. "The action could be anywhere from continuation of the rule and no revoke. If we did revoke, we would come out with additional rulemaking to revoke that," he says.

The announcement may give more ammunition to opponents of reopening the border, including R-CALF and other consumer groups.

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