The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has reported that a 50-month-old dairy cow from
Alberta has tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). CFIA has confirmed
that the cow was incinerated and that no part of it entered the animal or human food chain. The
Alberta cow is the seventh reported case of BSE in Canada.
CFIA successfully located the farm where the animal was born. Investigators are currently
tracing other cattle born at the farm within the 12-month period before and after the birth of the
infected animal. This latest cow was exposed to BSE after the 1997 implementation of Canada’s
feed ban. The follow-up CFIA investigation will focus on how the animal was exposed to BSE.
Read the entire CFIA statement>>
BSE infection causes mad cow disease in animals and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)
in humans, both resulting in serious neurological symptoms and death. In the majority of vCJD
cases, people contracted the disease by eating contaminated beef. Most vCJD cases have
occurred in the United Kingdom (UK). There is no available treatment for these diseases.
Although symptoms are identifiable, there currently is no way to test living animals or humans
for these diseases, with post-mortem brain dissection the only definitive means of identification.
There have been three confirmed cases of BSE in the U.S. The first case was in December 2003
in a cow imported from Canada. The second and third cases occurred in U.S.-born cattle in June
2005 and March 2006. In all three cases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that no
part of the cows entered the human food supply or animal feed chains.
The three reported cases of vCJD transmission via blood transfusion have all occurred in the
UK--all were solely connected with transfusions of blood components, not with any plasma-
derived factor concentrate. There have been no cases of vCJD transmission through the U.S.
blood supply. Tests are being developed to detect CJD and vCJD infections in blood and plasma
donors. Since 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has enforced donor deferral policies
among all blood donations from people who lived or visited the UK for three months or more
between 1980 and 1996.
Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency news release dated July 13, 2006