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Live cattle close limit-down after BSE find

A dairy cow has tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, on a farm in California, federal officials announced Tuesday. And, it had the live cattle market locked limit-down at the session's end Tuesday.

USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford said Tuesday the cow, which never entered the food or feed chain after dying on a farm in central California, never posed a risk to human health. In addition, Clifford said the animal's milk did not transmit the disease. The cow was nonambulatory, or a "downer," before it was shipped from its farm of origin, and protocol dictated it was removed from the chain of consumption.

"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," Clifford said Tuesday.

"This detection in no way affects the United States' BSE status as determined by the OIE (World Animal Health). The United States has in place all of the elements of a system that OIE has determined ensures that beef and beef products are safe for human consumption: a mammalian feed ban, removal of specified risk materials, and vigorous surveillance. Consequently, this detection should not affect U.S. trade," he added.

What's more, this case is unique from previous BSE-positives found in the U.S. in its origin. It's a different, naturally occurring strain, one that's not transmitted through feed. "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," Clifford said.

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