The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently conducting confirmatory testing of samples from a cow from British Columbia suspected of having bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

No part of the animal-an approximately six-year-old dairy cow-entered the human food or animal feed systems, and the entire carcass has been placed under control. The cow was identified on a Fraser Valley farm through the national BSE surveillance program. Since detecting Canada's first case in 2003, Canada's surveillance program, which targets animals most at risk of having BSE, has tested approximately 100,000 animals.

This case, if positive, has no bearing on the safety of Canadian beef. Canada has a suite of internationally recognized safeguards that work together to provide high levels of human and animal health protection. Tissues where BSE is known to concentrate in infected animals are removed from all cattle slaughtered in Canada for domestic and international human consumption. In addition, Canada's safeguards prevent the entry of potentially harmful imports, test cattle most at risk of having BSE and limit the potential spread of the disease through feed.

After initial screening tests conducted provincially produced inconclusive results, samples from the animal were sent to the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg for further analysis. The first part of this process has been completed and produced a preliminary positive result. Final testing is now underway and will be completed over the holiday weekend. In the interest of transparency, the CFIA decided to proactively provide currently available information.

The age of this animal would be consistent with previous cases and exposure to a low level of BSE infectivity. Following normal BSE protocols, the CFIA would, if a positive is confirmed, initiate a comprehensive epidemiological investigation to identify other animals of potential interest and to determine how and when the animal became infected. This investigation would be conducted on a priority basis, and information would be shared with the public as it became available.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Market Wire