Atypical Mad Cow Disease detected in AL cow

Published: Jul. 18, 2017 at 11:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2017 at 5:19 AM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12)
(Source: WSFA 12)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A rare and spontaneous disease was discovered in an Alabama beef cow at a livestock market, according to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

Commissioner John McMillan confirmed Tuesday in a press release that the cow tested positive for a disease known as atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or atypical BSE, more commonly known as atypical Mad Cow Disease.

However, the cow never entered slaughter channels or posed a risk to the public food supply or health, because routine surveillance spotted the infected animal before it could get processed. According to the USDA, the cow was showing clinical signs of the disease, causing field staff to take notice.

The cow later died on location, and routine samples were taken and sent to a lab for testing. According to the ADAI, test results confirmed the presence of atypical BSE.

There are two kinds of BSE: classical and atypical, neither of which are contagious. Classical BSE is typically the result of contaminated feed being fed to cows, but the Food and Drug Administration halted feeding practices that were shown to lead to the disease in 1997.

Atypical, however, is much more rare, and typically occurs in cattle that are eight or more years old. This case is only the fifth one on record in the United States.

Because the disease is so rare, the USDA said this case shouldn't affect any national risk levels, so the department doesn't think that food supply or trade should be affected in any way.

The USDA passed regulations in 2009 that implemented an enhanced surveillance system designed to spot diseases before they can become major problems.

"The Alabama beef industry is vital to our state's agriculture economy," McMillan said. "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 ongoing surveillance program is working effectively."

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