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Atypical’ form of mad cow disease confirmed in Alabama cow

published: July 19th 2017
source: AL.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed an "atypical" case of bovine spongiform encephalopothy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, in an 11-year old beef cow in Alabama but emphasized that the animal never entered the slaughterhouse and "at no time presented a risk to food supply or to human health."

According to a news release from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, the sick animal was discovered during routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market. The animal died at the market before entering the slaughter channels and samples were sent to a USDA lab in Iowa for confirmation.

The department referred to this case as "atypical," and "a rare and spontaneous incident."

The USDA implemented enhanced surveillance testing programs in 2009 to protect animal and human health, and the cow was discovered through these protocols.

According to the USDA, BSE exists in two types - classical and atypical. Classical BSE is the form that occurred primarily in the United Kingdom, beginning in the late 1980s, and it has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

The most common cause of classical BSE is when cows are fed products that contain brain or spinal tissue from other bovine animals. The USDA banned banned the use of such protein supplements in cattle in 1997.

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