Rare form of mad cow disease confirmed in Alabama cow

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A rare case of bovine spongiform encephalopothy (BSE), more commonly known as mad cow disease, was confirmed in an an eleven-year old Alabama beef cow on Tuesday.

The Commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, John McMillan, said the the department is working with USDA officials to address the positive test, which is only the fifth case of the “atypical” form of the disease — meaning it is both a rare and spontaneous incident — being confirmed in the United States.

According to the department, the animal was discovered during routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market. This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to food supply or to human health.

“The Alabama beef industry is vital to our state’s agriculture economy,” said Commissioner McMillan. “The response to this case by USDA officials and our department’s professionals led by State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier has been exemplary. This instance proves to us that our on-going surveillance program is working effectively.”

Following delivery to the livestock market the cow later died at that location. Routine tissue samples were taken and sent to diagnostic laboratories in Colorado and Iowa for testing and confirmation. The results were confirmed for atypical BSE at the USDA laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier added, “The ADAI conducts routine surveillance that includes collecting samples by trained field staff and veterinarians and has a response plan in place.”

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