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First case of BSE in the USA

Dr. Peter Fernandez, Associate Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Delegate to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for the United States reported the first case of BSE in the United States. The case is in an adult dairy cow (Holstein breed) from the State of Washington. The sample was tested at the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa (OIE Collaborating Centre for diagnostic of animal diseases), where it was reported as a positive case of BSE.

The sample was taken on December 9th. It used two tests (histopathology and immuno histo-chemistry), which are recognized as the "gold standards" for the diagnosis of BSE by the OIE. A sample from this animal is also being flown to the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Weybridge, England (OIE Reference Laboratory) which confirmed the diagnostic.

The USDA reported that the animal tested was a downer cow (animal unable to walk) at the time of slaughter and was identified as part of USA's targeted surveillance program, and that since 1990 there is an active national surveillance program in place to ensure detection and a swift response in the event of the appearance of BSE in the country. During 2003 the USDA has tested 20,526 head of cattle for BSE, which is triple the level of the previous year of 2002. "This is a clear indication that our surveillance and detection program is working" stated the Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman.

The trace-back indicates that the animal comes from a farm in Mabton, Washington, about 40 miles southeast of Yakima, Washington. As part of the emergency response plan, the farm has been quarantined. After the animal was slaughtered meat was sent for processing to Midway Meats in Washington State. USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service is working quickly to accurately determine the final disposition of all the products from the animal.

"We are pleased to see that the procedure followed by the US Authorities is complying with all OIE procedures in this context." said the Director General of the OIE. He further stressed that the OIE would continue to closely follow the situation in the USA and exchange scientific and normative information in close cooperation with the USDA.

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