The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has launched a comprehensive investigation after bovine spongiform encephalopathy was detected this January in a cow born and raised in Alberta.
No part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems, according to the Canadian agency.
The infected animal, an approximately six-year-old crossbred cow on a dairy farm, was discovered through Canada's national surveillance program, which targets cattle at highest risk of being infected with BSE. More than 87,000 animals have been tested since Canada's first BSE case in 2003.
The geographic location and age of this animal are consistent with the three domestic cases previously detected through the national BSE surveillance program and the current understanding of BSE in Canada.
The CFIA, in conjunction with the producer and the province of Alberta, are trying to determine the source of the infection. On-farm feeding regime and storage practices are being evaluated, as well as the production and source of feeds delivered to the farm.
Definitive conclusions regarding the source of infectivity cannot be made until the investigation is complete; however, it is probable that the source is contaminated feed, according to the CFIA.
Consistent with international standards, the CFIA will identify cattle born on the farm within 12 months before and after the affected animal, as well as offspring of the affected animal born during the past two years. Any live animals found from these groups will be segregated and tested.
As the investigation progresses, information will be posted on the CFIA Web site, www.inspection.gc.ca/english/toce.shtml, as it becomes available.