BSE Confirmed in Canada

A dairy cow in Alberta has tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), according to confirmatory results announced yesterday by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The infected animal was born in 1996, prior to implementation of the country’s 1997 feed ban, a CFIA release reports.

The agency is continuing its investigation and has determined the animal’s farm of origin. Now, the CFIA is working to identify at-risk animals, including recently born offspring of the infected animal and cattle born on the same farm within a year of the animal. A feed investigation is also under way, the release stated, in order to identify pre-feed ban infection sources.

No part of the animal entered the human food chain or animal feed systems.

"Confirming BSE in this animal is not unexpected," the release stated. "Canada has in place a suite of risk mitigation measures to protect public and animal health, including the removal of SRM (specified risk material) from the human food chain, the ruminant to ruminant feed ban, the national surveillance program and import restrictions."

The finding follows positive preliminary results announced last Thursday, just one day after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its plans to resume Canadian live cattle imports beginning early March. Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Administrator Ron DeHaven said Dec. 30, 2004, that a positive BSE finding would not alter plans for trade.

In a statement released earlier today, DeHaven said the USDA will continue to consider Canada a minimal-risk country in accordance with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.

"USDA remains confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place … combined with existing U.S. domestic safeguards and the additional safeguards announced as part of the USDA’s BSE minimal-risk rule announced Dec. 29, provide the utmost protection to U.S. consumers and livestock," he said. "USDA will continue to work closely with CFIA officials as their investigation into this situation progresses."

Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc., Assistant Editor

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