Probe of BSE case complete

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 21, 2005
by WLJ
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has concluded its investigation into the latest case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) confirmed on Jan. 11. All animals tested through the investigation were found negative for BSE.
The agency's investigation determined that 349 animals comprised the birth cohort, which includes cattle born on the farm of origin within 12 months before and 12 months after the infected animal. Of this group, 41 animals were found alive and were euthanized. They tested negative for BSE. Most of the other animals from the birth cohort had previously died or been slaughtered. The investigation also identified the infected animal's two most recently born offspring. One calf born in 2003 had been slaughtered; the other born in 2004 was too young to be tested for BSE and was euthanized.
Canada's ruminant feed ban was introduced in 1997 as a proactive precaution. At that time, it is likely that the feed ban was not immediately adopted uniformly across the feed industry, according to the agency. Prohibited materials would have been purged from the ruminant feed system as Canadian renderers, feed manufacturers, retailers, distributors and producers developed, implemented and refined new operating processes. Similar experiences have been observed in all countries with BSE that have implemented feed controls. Based on this understanding, the agency said, the detection of an infected animal born after the feed ban was not unexpected.
The feed component of the investigation determined that BSE may have been transmitted to the infected animal through feed produced shortly after the feed ban was introduced. However, exact production dates for the feeds under investigation are unavailable.
Surveillance findings, inspection reports, international risk assessments and previous investigations indicate that the ban has successfully limited the spread of BSE over time, CFIA said. Nonetheless, the agency is committed to continuously improving Canada's BSE safeguards. Canadian officials are conducting a review to gain a detailed, current snapshot of how the feed ban is working. Concurrently, proposed enhancements to the feed ban are moving through the regulatory process, the comment period for which closes on Feb. 24. These changes require the removal of specified risk material (SRM) from all animal feeds. This action will minimize the risks associated with any potential cross contamination or on-farm misuse, CFIA said. — WLJ