Yesterday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the diagnosis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a mature dairy cow from British Columbia. The animal's carcass is under CFIA control, and no part of it entered the human food or animal feed systems.

Preliminary information indicates that the age of the animal (66 months) falls well within the age range of previous cases detected in Canada and is consistent with the recognized average incubation period of the disease. This signifies that the animal was exposed to a very small amount of infective material, most likely during its first year of life.

An epidemiological investigation directed by international guidelines is underway to identify the animal’s herdmates at the time of birth and the pathways by which it might have become infected. All findings will be publicly released once the investigation concludes.

Canada has a suite of robust BSE control measures which exceed the recommended international standards. Assessment of Canada ’s programs by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has resulted in a recommendation for recognition as a controlledrisk country. The OIE categorization process is based on an evaluation of the comprehensive set of risk mitigation measures implemented by a given country.

Canada has taken all necessary measures to achieve the eventual elimination of BSE from the national cattle herd. The enhanced feed ban, which comes into effect on July 12, will prevent more than 99 percent of potential BSE infectivity from entering the Canadian feed system. The CFIA expects to detect a small number of cases over the next 10 years as Canada progresses towards its goal of eliminating the disease from the national cattle heard.

The British Columbia animal was identified at the farm level by the national surveillance program, which has detected all cases found in Canada. The program targets cattle most at risk and has tested about 160,000 animals since 2003. The surveillance results reflect an extremely low incidence of BSE in Canada.

It is not unexpected to find BSE -infected animals born after the feed ban. This has proven to be the case in most other countries with targeted surveillance programs, similar to that in Canada.

Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency