Canada confirms new mad cow case

June 24, 2008 7:01:10 AM PDT
A new case of mad cow disease was confirmed in Canada, its 13th case since 2003.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Monday that the latest case of mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, does not suggest the problem is more widespread.

"We've very confident that BSE is not common in Canada because of our surveillance," said George Luterbach, a veterinarian with the agency.

It is the third case in British Columbia in the last three years.

Luterbach said Canada has been assessed by the World Organization for Animal Health and given a controlled-risk status, indicating it has the proper checks and balances to control the disease.

"As part of our risk assessment, it was recognized that as Canada moves to the eradication of BSE . . . there would likely be a small number cases that will be detected along the way, and this is well understood by our trading partners," he said Monday.

Luterbach said over 220,000 cattle in Canada have been tested for BSE since the country's first case in 2003.

"Those cattle have been selected to be the highest potential risk animals for BSE," he said.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency hasn't said where the infected cow is located but an investigation is under way to determine where the cow was born.

In 2006 and 2007 the disease was found in two British Columbia dairy cows, and in both cases the agency said the infection was caused by contaminated feed.

The inspection agency said a ban on using animal materials in feed products has virtually eliminated the spread of BSE in Canada, but it said a small number of mad cow cases are still expected to surface.

It also said there was no risk to public health because no part of the animal entered the human food systems.