Alberta cow positive for BSE

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Canadian health authorities were investigating the diet and feed sources of a 6-year-old cow from the province of Alberta found to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The cow was nonambulatory Feb. 4, and samples taken by a veterinarian were positive for the classical form of BSE, according to a report from the Canadian government to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The animal is the first known to be infected in Canada since 2011.

Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a technical briefing Feb. 18 that investigators were trying to find information on feed given to the cow, including feed mill records. Rules enacted in 1997 and 2007, respectively, are supposed to prevent the spread of BSE by prohibiting most mammalian proteins in ruminant feed and prohibiting inclusion of the highest-risk materials in any animal feed, pet food, or fertilizer.

CFIA officials noted that the cow’s carcass had been kept out of the food supply. The report to the OIE states that movement controls and quarantines were enacted.

The classical form of BSE is most often transmitted through feed contaminated with pathogenic prion proteins originating in infected animals’ brains and spinal cords, according to information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It differs from atypical BSE, which can develop spontaneously and could be inherited, according to information from the USDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.