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U.S. detects atypical case of mad cow disease in Alabama

Staff Writer |
An 11-year-old cow in Alabama tested positive for the "atypical" case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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It happened after the cow showed clinical signs at an Alabama livestock market and that veterinary officials are gathering more information on the case, said the USDA.

"This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States," the U.S. agency said in a statement.

"The World Organization for Animal Health has recognized the United States as negligible risk for BSE... this finding of an atypical case will not change the negligible risk status of the United States, and should not lead to any trade issues," it said.

This is the nation's 5th detection of BSE, according to the USDA. Of the four previous U.S. cases, the first was a case of classical BSE that was imported from Canada and the rest were atypical BSE.

The USDA said atypical BSE is different from the classical version of the disease, which has been linked to a universally fatal brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people.

Atypical BSE generally occurs in older cattle, which are usually eight years old or above, and seems to arise rarely and spontaneously in all cattle populations, it said.

"It's important to note that this type is very different than the classical type of BSE, which occurred mainly in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. BSE is not contagious and the cow announced today posed no risk to human health.

The bottom line: all U.S. beef is safe," Jimmy Holliman, cattle health and well-being committee chairman at the U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said in a statement.

"USDA's ongoing BSE surveillance program has tested more than one million cattle since the program began. The incidence of BSE in the United States is extremely low, and will remain so," Holliman added.

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