Entries in Mad Cow Disease (2)


Mad Cow Case IDed Through Regular Testing and Random Chance

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The discovery of mad cow disease in a dairy cow in California is being described as a combination of the U.S.'s targeted surveillance of its beef supply and random chance.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed Tuesday that the disease had been discovered in a dead cow.

In a press briefing, John Clifford, the USDA's chief veterinary officer, said the cow's meat did not enter the food supply and the carcass will be destroyed.

The animal was found at a rendering facility run by Baker Commodities in Hanford, Calif. The disease was discovered when the company selected the cow for random sampling. The cow had not shown any other signs of the disease, such as unsteadiness or low milk production.

The Department of Agriculture performs tests for mad cow disease on about 40,000 cows each year. Ronnie Silcox, a professor of animal science and a beef cattle specialist at the University of Georgia, said cows that are at high-risk of the disease, such as those that can't walk or show signs of neurological disease, are the ones routinely tested. He called the discovery of mad cow disease "incredibly, incredibly rare." "This is one out of a million, or something like that," he said. "It's probably inevitable that we find it eventually because we're actively looking for it."

The Agriculture Department confirmed Tuesday that the cow is the fourth discovered in the United States to test positive for the disease, but stressed that consumers were not at risk because the animal was not bound for the food supply.

Nevertheless, two retailers in South Korea pulled U.S. beef from their stores Wednesday in response to the report of mad cow disease.

U.S. government officials were quick to reassure the public that the finding posed no threat to humans.

"The beef and dairy in the American food supply is safe and USDA remains confident in the health of U.S. cattle," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "The systems and safeguards in place to protect animal and human health worked as planned to identify this case quickly, and will ensure that it presents no risk to the food supply or to human health. USDA has no reason to believe that any other U.S. animals are currently affected, but we will remain vigilant and committed to the safeguards in place."

The Food and Drug Administration pledged to "work with the USDA to fully investigate the feed supply as part of the epidemiological investigation." And the USDA said in a statement that milk does not transmit mad cow disease.

Silcox noted that the cows processed for consumption in the U.S. are usually too young to have developed mad cow disease.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mad Cow Disease Case Confirmed By USDA

Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday confirmed a case of mad cow disease found in a dairy cow in central California.

In a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinary officer, said the cow’s meat did not enter the food supply and the carcass will be destroyed. The animal was found at a rendering facility.

“There is really no concern for alarm here with regards to this animal,” Clifford said. “Both human health and animal health are protected with regards to this issue.”

According to a statement from USDA, milk does not transmit mad cow disease.

This is the fourth case of mad cow disease in the U.S. cattle supply since December 2003. The most recent case occurred in 2006, when officials discovered an infected cow on an Alabama farm.

Mad cow disease affects the brain and spine of an animal, the result of an unusual transmissible protein called a prion, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those body parts are kept out of grocery stores and restaurants and have no contact with the meat that does make its way to consumers.

No humans in the U.S. have ever been infected with mad cow disease, but fears of the disease became prominent in the 1990s when 140 people in Britain died from the brain-wasting disease.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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