LETHBRIDGE - It will be an interesting case of 'what happens when the shoe is on the other foot", or in this case, the other hoof.
A confirmed case of mad cow south of the border doesn't seem to have stirred the usual fears and blustery comments that normally accompany such a find. However, at this point, there's no link to Canada and it seems the particulars of the case are being downplayed.
Agriculture officials say a rarely seen form of mad cow disease has been found in Alabama.
A statement from the Agriculture Commissioner in the state of Alabama, John McMillan, refers to the case as a rarely seen form of mad cow, known as atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
It was confirmed in an 11-year-old beef cow which died at market before entering the slaughter channels and samples were sent to a USDA lab for confirmation. The cow wasn't slaughtered and its meat didn't enter the food chain.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Alabama cow is only the fifth case of the disease to be confirmed in the U-S. Of the four previous U.S. cases, the first was a case of classical BSE that was imported from Canada; the rest have been atypical (H- or L-type) BSE.
Classical BSE is normally traced back to contaminated cattle feed, while the atypical variety generally occurs in cattle eight-years of age or older.
The USDA continues to investigate but will not release the identify of the farm where the animal came from. The department underscores the fact that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has recognized the U.S. as being negligible risk for BSE and that atypical BSE cases do not impact official BSE risk status.
The official statement can be found on the USDA website.
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