Atypical BSE case found in a cow in Florida

The USDA has discovered a 6-year-old cow in Florida was infected with atypical BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).  The animal never entered slaughter channels and does not present a risk to the food supply or to human health. Atypical BSE is not associated with feed and APHIS says it happens rarely and spontaneously.  The cow was found as part of routine surveillance of cattle that are deemed unsuitable for slaughter.  As part of the normal USDA procedure, the agency will track down any offspring of an infected cow that could be carrying the disease.

This is just the sixth confirmed case of BSE in the US and the first since July of last year, when atypical BSE was found in an 11-year-old cow in Alabama.

University of Missouri livestock economist Scott Brown says he doesn’t anticipate cattle markets to be significantly impacted because this is an atypical case of BSE.  Cattle futures have been trading weak to lower since this morning’s open.

Except for the first case, found in a cow imported from Canada, all of the BSE findings in the US have been atypical BSE.

The incidence of BSE in the US is extremely low.  The US currently is classified as a “Negligible BSE Risk” status from the World Organization for Animal Health, the lowest possible risk in the world.

BSE can be transmissible to humans if they consume contaminated material, but the USDA has taken extensive steps to insure the types of materials, like brain and spinal cord, are excluded from all food.  Those same materials are also banned from livestock feed to prevent animal-to-animal transmission.

There are two types of BSE, classical and atypical.  Classical is believed to be spread through feed that is contaminated with infected bovine material from rendered animals.


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