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Possible BSE case in Alberta, Canada

Agriculture.com Staff 07/10/2006 @ 2:37pm

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently conducting confirmatory testing at the National Reference Laboratory in Winnipeg of samples from a cow from Alberta suspected of having bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Preliminary screening tests were not able to rule out BSE, according to the CFIA press release. Therefore, consistent with established CFIA protocol, additional analysis is underway.

The animal, reported to be a 50-month old dairy cow, died and was retained on farm. No part of the carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems, and the entire carcass has been placed under control. The cow was identified through the national BSE surveillance program.

This detection is consistent with a low level of disease and does not indicate an increased risk of BSE in Canada.

Canada's surveillance program, which targets cattle most likely to be affected by BSE, has tested more that 115,000 animals since Canada's first BSE case in 2003.

The CFIA has launched an investigation to collect additional information about the affected animal. In addition, the CFIA will identify other animals of equivalent risk, namely cattle born on the same farm within 12 months before and after the affected animal. Any live animals found from this group will be segregated and tested.

Given its age, this animal would have been exposed to the BSE agent after the 1997 introduction of Canada's feed ban, likely during its first year of life. An exhaustive investigation to examine possible routes of infection has begun on the farm. This finding is consistent with international experience, which demonstrates that BSE cases born after the introduction of feed bans are seen in other countries affected by the disease. On June 26, 2006, the Government announced regulatory enhancements to Canada's feed ban to exclude SRM from all animal feeds, pet foods and fertilizers. This strengthening of the ban provides an even greater barrier to any potential for the circulation of infectious material in order to accelerate the eradication of BSE in the shortest time frame possible.

The safety of Canada's food supply remains protected through the removal of specified risk material (SRM) from all cattle slaughtered for human consumption. SRM are cattle tissues that have been shown in infected cattle to contain concentrated levels of the BSE agent. This measure is internationally recognized as the most effective means to protect the safety of food from BSE.

As testing and the investigation progress, the CFIA will provide Canadians and trading partners with regular updates. Information will be posted to the CFIA's Website as it becomes available.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently conducting confirmatory testing at the National Reference Laboratory in Winnipeg of samples from a cow from Alberta suspected of having bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

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