Atypical BSE Case in Alabama


By Wyatt Bechtel 

An atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has been identified in an eleven-year old cow in Alabama, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The cow did not enter any processing facilities and it presents no threat to the food supply.

Tests through USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) determined the cow was positive for atypical (L-type) BSE. The cow was discovered through routine surveillance of cattle at an Alabama livestock market. Information on the case is currently being gathered by APHIS and Alabama state veterinary officials.

BSE is a neurological disease that is found in two forms – classical and atypical.

Classical BSE is primarily caused by feed contaminated with infectious prion agents, like those derived from meat-and-bone meal. This is why Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited the use of mammalian protein in feed for cattle and other ruminants starting in 1997. Starting in 2009, high risk tissue materials in all animal feed was prohibited.

Atypical BSE is a different strain and is typically found in older cattle, most commonly eight years or older.

In the U.S. there have now been five cases of BSE detected. The first was a classical form coming from a cow imported from Canada in 2003. The other BSE cases have been atypical (H- or L-type).

United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) applauds the work of officials to identify the cow and remove any possible disruptions to the nation’s food chain.

“USCA appreciates the swift response and communication by the USDA to both industry and consumers on this issue.  The safeguards in place by the U.S. worked successfully to detect this atypical case before any product entered the food supply,” says Kenny Graner, USCA president.

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Picture: Pixabay


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