Alberta reports rare case of atypical mad cow disease; says no risk to human health

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EDMONTON — Alberta Agriculture Minister Nate Horner says an older cow has tested positive for atypical BSE.

It's Alberta's first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, in almost six years.

Horner says atypical BSE presents no risk to human health and is not transmissible.

He says the case is not expected to affect the market and quick detection demonstrates that inspectors and producers are dedicated to keeping the disease out of Canada’s cattle herd.

This type of BSE happens at a rate of about one in one million cattle and has been reported six times in the United States, the last time in 2018, and in other countries.

The World Organization for Animal Health says atypical BSE differs from the classical form of BSE, which happens when cattle eat prion contaminated feed.

To limit BSE spread among cattle, Canada banned most proteins from cattle feed, including specified risk material, in 1997, and specified risk materials from all animal feeds in 2007.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is leading the response and officials are to meet with stakeholders Monday to answer any questions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2021.


The Canadian Press

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