OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada confirmed a new case of mad cow disease on Tuesday, its 11th since 2003, and said the animal in question was a 13-year-old beef cow from Alberta born before a feed ban designed to prevent the disease.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said no part of the animal’s carcass had entered the human or animal food supply.
“These cases, while I suppose unwelcome, are not unexpected,” said George Luterbach, a senior veterinarian with the CFIA.
The cow was born before Canada and the United States introduced a ban in 1997 on cattle feed that contained ingredients made from rendered cattle and other ruminants.
Protein from the brains and spines of diseased animals can spread bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease.
Canada has now also banned the risk material from all types of livestock feed in an effort to eliminate BSE from Canada’s herd within 10 years. Until then, the CFIA said it expected to find a few cases of BSE.
The cow spent its entire life on the same farm, but was euthanized when it became thin and sick, Luterbach said.
Because of its age and condition, the carcass was held for testing under the BSE surveillance program, which has tested about 190,000 cattle since 2003, he said.
The agency will now trace other cattle from the same farm born around the same time that may have consumed the same feed, and destroy them, he said.
Canada’s cattle industry was devastated by trade bans sparked by its first domestic case of mad cow disease in 2003.
The United States, its largest market, has allowed beef from young cattle since September 2003, as well as young live cattle starting in 2005.
Last month, the United States began allowing imports of all Canadian beef, as well as live cattle born on or after March 1, 1999.
The new case “should have no impact on trade,” Luterbach said.
But Montana-based activist rancher group R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America pointed to the latest finding as supporting its argument that the U.S. Agriculture Department should continue to ban imports of older Canadian cattle.
“It is exposing the U.S. to an unnecessary and avoidable risk of mad cow disease,” said Bill Bullard of R-CALF, which has asked a federal judge to block the imports.
(Additional reporting by Christopher Doering in Washington)
Reporting by David Ljunggren and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bernadette Baum