Second domestic BSE case unfounded

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Aug 8, 2005
by WLJ

The number of confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in U.S.-born cattle is still at one after USDA last week announced that confirmatory testing came back negative on a suspect cow sample.
According to John Clifford, deputy administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, both the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, Ames, IA, and the international lab from Weybridge, England, came back with negative results on a “non-definitive” sample tested late last month.
“The initial non-definitive result was caused by artifactual (artificial or untrue) staining and, while this staining did not resemble BSE, we felt the prudent course was to conduct the additional tests,” Clifford said.
The sample in question was collected in April from a cow that became non-ambulatory after experiencing calving problems. The veterinarian that collected the sample had packaged it with some preservative and then inadvertently left it in a refrigerator before finding it last month and sending it to a lab for preliminary testing.
The location of the ranch and other specifics of the suspect animal were not released.
Clifford reiterated last week that USDA’s ongoing stepped-up BSE surveillance program is effective and that the animal did not represent any threat to the human, livestock or pet population in the U.S.
“The carcass of this animal was destroyed, therefore there is absolutely no risk to human or animal health from this animal,” Clifford said. “I do want to emphasize that the most important protections for human and animal health are our interlocking food-safety protocols. Our enhanced surveillance program is designed to provide information about the level of prevalence of BSE in the U.S., which by any measure is extremely low.”
By regulatory rule, non-ambulatory cattle, also called “downers,” aren’t currently allowed into the human or animal food chains, and the carcasses of tested animals are held back until test results come back negative for the disease.
Through July 31, USDA had tested 426,164 at risk animals with only one sample being confirmed to be infected with the disease. That positive case was announced June 24, seven months after the sample was originally collected from a 12-year-old Texas cow that was delivered to a pet food plant. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor

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