June 24, 2008 / 12:35 PM / in 9 years

Canada probes new mad cow case; no threat seen

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada confirmed a new case of mad cow disease on Monday, its 13th since 2003, but said the case in British Columbia did not pose a health threat.

<p>A Canadian cow is pictured in a field near Teulon, Manitoba, July 28, 2006. Canada confirmed a new case of mad cow disease on Monday, its 13th since 2003, but said the case in British Columbia did not pose a health threat. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the animal was detected as part of its ongoing surveillance program for mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which it has vowed to eradicate within a decade.

The cow, whose age was not released, was reported to CFIA after it died at a farm in the western Canadian province, and officials said no part of the animal entered the human or animal food chain.

“At this point in time we are in the process of determining the birth farm. Once we have got that solidified then we’ll be able to confirm the birth date of the animal,” said CFIA senior veterinarian George Luterbach.

CFIA has traced Canada’s earlier cases to cattle feed produced before the country enacted a ban it containing rendered cattle or other ruminants in 1997. Additional feed restrictions were imposed last year.

Canada discovered its first home-grown case of mad cow disease in 2003, and officials have said they expect to find a small number additional cases until all the cattle exposed to residual contamination in the feed system are gone.

Proteins from the brains and spines of diseased animals can spread BSE. The human form of BSE, known as variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, is believed to be caused by eating infected meat.

CFIA, echoing language it has used on other recent cases, said the latest discovery does not affect Canada’s status as a BSE controlled risk country as recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health.

“It was an animal that died on farm and was removed by a dead stock service,” Luterbach said.

Luterbach said because officials are still trying to confirm the animal’s birth farm, it was too early to say how many birth cohorts or what records exist on any offspring.

Canada’s inspection program targeting animals at high risk of BSE has tested more than 220,000 cattle since 2003, CFIA said.

While Canada’s initial home-grown case of the disease in 2003 prompted trade bans by other countries, the most recent cases have prompted little if any reaction from commodities markets.

Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Frank McGurty.

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