The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) today announced that Canada’s national surveillance program has detected bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an Alberta beef cow just under seven years of age. As part of its surveillance program, the CFIA has control of the carcass. No part of the animal has entered the human food or animal feed systems.
Public health remains protected through the removal of specified risk material (SRM) from all animals slaughtered for human food. SRM are tissues that, in infected animals, contain the BSE agent. This measure is internationally recognized as the most effective public health measure against BSE.
The CFIA is investigating what the animal may have been fed early in its life and the source of the feed. The infected animal was born in March 1998, and the farm of origin has been confirmed. Based on preliminary information, feed produced prior to the introduction of the 1997 feed ban in Canada remains the most likely source of infection in this animal.
The infected animal was detected through the recently enhanced national surveillance program. Additional cases may be found as testing of high-risk cattle continues. In 2004, the Government of Canada tested over 22,000 animals.
Canada’s science-based BSE safeguards to protect public and animal health have been designed with the understanding that BSE is potentially present in a small and declining number of animals. This includes animals born before and shortly after the 1997 feed ban. The Government of Canada continues to believe that the ruminant to ruminant feed ban introduced in 1997 has limited the spread of BSE and remains effective
Initial testing on the animal was conducted by Alberta authorities. Results were inconclusive and samples were then sent to the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg. The definitive diagnosis was made today using the internationally recognized “gold standard” test for BSE.
Since the surveillance program was enhanced in January 2004, Canada has tested more than 24,000 high-risk cattle. This targeted approach has detected an additional two BSE positive cattle.
This current investigation is independent of the BSE investigation on the case which was confirmed on January 2, 2005.