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Canada reports first case of BSE

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has quarantined an Alberta farm in an investigation of a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. This case of an 8 year old beef cow was detected as part of Canada's ongoing BSE surveillance program. The cow comes from a 150 head commercial cow-calf operation in Alberta. The herd of origin has been in existence only 3 years. The cattle were bought from 2 dealers who sourced animals from 3 premises. As individual cattle identification was not a Canadian requirement 3 years ago, Canadian veterinary officials are relying on brands to try to trace the BSE positive back to the farm of birth. Canada has quarantined the farm and has already begun the depopulation of the herd. Before depopulation, samples were collected for additional epidemiological investigations.

Trace back investigations have already identified all 211 cohort animals that had left the farm. The investigation on the origin of the BSE case continues. The cow was slaughtered on January 31, 2003. It was a routine cull, as a "downer cow", and was noted as being emaciated and diagnosed with pneumonia at slaughter, it was submitted for routine BSE surveillance. Alberta Agriculture officials tested a cow that had been condemned at slaughter and removed from the food system. Preliminary tests performed at a provincial laboratory and at the CFIA' s National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease were unable to rule out BSE. The CFIA sent specimens to the World Reference Labora1tory at Pirbright, United Kingdom, which has verified the presence of BSE. Tests used were histopathology and immunochemistry.

The CFIA and the Province of Alberta. are investigating the animal's origin and how its remains were processed. Information suggests that the risk to human hea1th and the possibility of transmission to other Canadian cattle from this case are low. The cow was rendered at Northern Alberta Processors on Feb. 3, 7, or 14. The renderer has a good compliance record and has had yearly inspections. The rendering company supplies 16 feed managers and the rendered material could have been put in feed for species other than ruminants. Canada has a ruminant to ruminant feed ban. Immediate action has been taken to safeguard Canadian consumers and the Canadian livestock population," said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief. "Federal officials, in cooperation with provincial and industry partners, are conducting a comprehensive investigation and taking all necessary steps to control the situation."

"We remain confident in our beef and cattle industry and we will support both the CFIA and our cattle industry in eliminating this disease from Canada." said Shirley McClellan. Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. The affected herd will be depopulated once the necessary samples are obtained for the purposes - of the ongoing investigation. Any additional herds that are found to be at risk as a result of the investigation will also be depopulated. This is a comprehensive investigation to trace the origin of the cow and determine how it was processed, which will provide information to control any potentia1 spread of disease. The investigation involves thorough scrutiny of records at the farm level, abattoir) rendering plant and feed mills.