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International BSE Guidelines Updated with New Scientific Findings

Countries work from date of birth, not date of case for risk categorization.

Among the results of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) annual meeting last week is a change to the OIE guidelines on standard requirements for risk categorization of countries with BSE as well as clarifications to the recommendations for BSE surveillance.

Prior to the revisions, the OIE's BSE code required a country with a confirmed case of BSE in a native-born animal to wait seven years after the last discovery of BSE before it could be considered in the "negligible risk" category, the category for countries with the least BSE risk. Under the newly approved guidelines, countries can be considered for this risk categorization 11 years after the birth date of the last native-born case.

Previously, a country that discovered a case of BSE had to wait seven years from the date of its latest discovery before being eligible to be classified as a "negligible risk•bCrLf country, the category for countries with the least amount of risk from the disease. Under these guidelines, the U.S. would have had to wait until the year 2013 to be classified as a negligible risk country after the March 2006 discovery of a BSE-infected cow in Alabama.

Now, as a result of OIE's decision, countries work from the date of birth of the animal discovered to be infected with the BSE agent - a significant change that more accurately reflects the scientific knowledge surrounding the disease.

According to the OIE's BSE guidelines, to be considered negligible risk, a country that has identified a domestic case of BSE must demonstrate that an appropriate level of controls, including feed restrictions, has been in place for at least 8 years and the last domestic case discovered must have been born more than 11 years prior.

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