Canada confirms new case of mad cow disease, cattle prices rise

Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:16pm EST
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By David Ljunggren and Scott Haggett

OTTAWA/CALGARY (Reuters) - Canada confirmed its first case of mad cow disease since 2011 on Friday, but said the discovery should not hit a beef export sector worth C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) a year.

The news, however, helped boost U.S. cattle prices.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said no part of the animal, a beef cow from Alberta, had reached the human food or animal feed systems.

Mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a progressive, fatal neurological disease. It is thought that the disease can be transmitted to people from food made from cows sick with BSE.

"The CFIA is seeking to confirm the age of the animal, its history and how it became infected. The investigation will focus in on the feed supplied to this animal during the first year of its life," the agency said.

Canadian exports were badly hit in 2003 after the first case of BSE in Canada was detected. Canada subsequently tightened its controls, and many nations have since resumed the beef trade with Canada, despite the discovery of more cases since then.

Asked whether he was concerned about exports being harmed, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told reporters in Calgary: "Not at this time, no."

He added, however, that markets in South Korea and Japan were generally very concerned about the potential risk from BSE.   Continued...

Cows graze in a pasture in the southern Alberta foothills near Dog Pound in this file photo taken on March 2, 2005. REUTERS/Patrick Price