Monday, November 17, 2008

Another mad-cow case in British Columbia

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a federal government agency, has confirmed another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a British Columbian dairy cow.

According to the CFIA, the 7-year-old cow's birth farm has been identified and officials have launched an investigation to trace not only the source of the BSE, but to identify the cow's herdmates at birth.

"The age and location of the infected animal are consistent with previous cases detected in Canada," according to a release from CFIA. The animal has not been introduced into either human or animal food supplies.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy incubates for several years and is most commonly identified in older animals. In Canada, cattle are typically slaughtered for food production between 18 and 30 months of age.

The Centers for Disease Control defines BSE as:
...a progressive neurological disorder of cattle that results from infection by an unusual transmissible agent called a prion. The nature of the transmissible agent is not well understood. Currently, the most accepted theory is that the agent is a modified form of a normal protein known as prion protein. For reasons that are not yet understood, the normal prion protein changes into a pathogenic (harmful) form that then damages the central nervous system of cattle.
This is the 19th case of BSE identified in North America. Sixteen cases have been identified in Canada and three in the United States. Of the American cases, one cow was born in Canada. Both nations have imposed rigorous surveillance procedures to identify any new cases. The Food and Drug Administration will begin enforcing new, more rigorous feed regulations in on April 2005 to bring US regulations more in line with those of Canada.

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