Alberta cow tagged as Canada's 16th BSE case

Fri May 15, 2009 5:07pm EDT
 
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A six-year-old dairy cow in the western province of Alberta has been confirmed as Canada's 16th case of mad cow disease since 2003, health officials said on Friday.

The animal tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. No part of the carcass entered the human or animal food system, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said.

The animal's birth farm has been identified, and an investigation is under way, the CFIA said.

"The age and location of the infected animal are consistent with previous cases detected in Canada," said the CFIA, which has blamed infected feed for most of the earlier cases of the disease.

Mad cow disease is believed to be spread when cattle eat protein rendered from the brains and spines of infected cattle or sheep. Canada banned that practice in 1997.

The CFIA tightened feed rules further in 2007 and said this should help eliminate the disease nationally within a decade, although it cautioned it still expected to discover the occasional new case.

Canada has been deemed a "controlled risk" country for mad cow disease by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) because of its surveillance and control measures.

The CFIA said the latest case is not expected to affect exports of cattle or beef.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)