Atypical case of BSE reported at processing plant in South Carolina
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) announced that an aytpical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a neurologic disease of cattle, has been found in a bovine animal that arrived at a slaughterhouse in South Carolina.
The approximately five-year-old or older beef cow began showing symptoms of the disease after it arrived at the facility. It tested positive following routine surveillance protocols and the carcass was condemned soon after. The animal possessed a radio frequency identification tag associated with a herd in Tennessee. USDA APHIS and state animal health officials will conduct a thorough investigation of the case.
According to officials, samples were sent to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) lab for testing, and the results indicated that the cow may have had the disease. Following this result, they sent the samples to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). These results confirmed that the cow was positive for atypical L-type BSE.
The animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply or to human health in the U.S. The radio frequency identification tag present on the animal is associated with a herd in Tennessee. APHIS and veterinary officials in South Carolina and Tennessee are gathering more information during this ongoing investigation.
From a story in Brownfield Ag News, this is the nation’s 7th detection of BSE, of the six previous U.S. cases, the first, in 2003 was the only case of classical BSE, which was from a cow imported from Canada. The rest of the cases have been atypical BSE. The classical BSE occurs in cattle after ingesting prion contaminated feed, while the atypical BSE is believed to occur spontaneously in all cattle populations.
The agency said that the United States has a “negligible risk status” for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), as the neurologic disease is officially called, and “we do not expect any trade impacts as a result of this finding.” Classical BSE is linked to the fatal human condition Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease if contaminated meat is eaten.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association chief veterinarian Dr. Kathy Simmons says USDA’s ongoing BSE surveillance program has tested more than one million cattle since the program began, ensuring that the agency’s interlocking supply chain safety products are working. She says the incidence of BSE in the U.S. is extremely low and will remain so.
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association president Justin Tupper says the swift detection of this case proves that the systems and protocols put in place are working. He says the organization is grateful to the nationwide team of veterinarians, animal health officials, meat inspectors, and others who ensure the well-being of the U.S. cattle herd.
Atypical BSE generally occurs in older cattle and seems to arise rarely and spontaneously in all cattle populations.
The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) recognizes the U.S. as negligible risk for BSE, the lowest possible risk in the world. Per WOAH guidelines in determining this status, atypical BSE cases do not impact official BSE risk status and this finding of an atypical case will not change the negligible risk status of the U.S., and should not lead to any trade issues.