Tests results for a cow on an Alabama farm were positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, according to a March 13 statement by the Department of Agriculture. The animal, which was euthanized and buried on the farm, did not enter the human food or animal feed supplies.
USDA Chief Veterinarian John Clifford said the department was working with Alabama animal health officials to conduct an epidemiologic investigation to gather any further information on the origin of the cow. The cow had resided on the Alabama farm for less than a year.
A western blot test conducted at the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, on samples from the cow confirmed the infection. The western blot test is one of two confirmatory tests that the USDA uses to determine whether an animal is infected with BSE. The other test is the immunohistochemistry test.
Officials said the cow was believed to be about 10 years old, indicating that it was born prior to the implementation of the Food and Drug Administration's 1997 animal feed ban. "Older animals are more likely to have been exposed to contaminated feed circulating before the FDA's 1997 ban on ruminant-to-ruminant feeding practices, which scientific research has indicated is the most likely route for BSE transmission," Dr. Clifford said.
For more information on the Alabama BSE case, log on to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Web site.