ALBERTA MAD COW CASE SHOWS THE SYSTEM WORKS
According to the Canadian Animal Health Coalition, the discovery of a case of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as Mad cow disease, in a cow in Northern Alberta on February 11, is unfortunate but not unexpected and demonstrates the effectiveness of Canada’s National BSE Surveillance Program ….. Detection of the isolated case by Canadian Food Inspectors ensured the animal did not enter the human food or animal feed system, according to the CFIA. Following the protocols established in response to the 2003 crisis, the farm in question is under quarantine until the CFIA concludes its investigation. “The CFIA is seeking to confirm the age of the animal, its history and how it became infected. The investigation will focus in on the feed supplied to this animal during the first year of its life,” the agency said. The new case is the first in Canada since 2011, but due to the long incubation time is not unexpected. In addition, the CFIA tightened feed rules in 2007 and said at the time the moves should help eliminate BSE nationally within a decade, although the agency said it still expected to discover the occasional new case. BSE has a long incubation period, which explains why cases still crop up years after Canada tightened the feed rules. Since the prion can also survive in feed for many years, feed on the farm is being tested as a possible source of contamination. The discovery of this latest case is due to the Canadian BSE surveillance program implemented after the 2003 crisis. The program includes Canada's ability to trace animals from place of birth through to processing; mandatory reporting of animals exhibiting clinical signs of the disease; random testing of animals nation-wide; and testing older animals at risk of incubating the disease. The program is fully consistent with the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) science-based guidelines, which ranks Canada as a “controlled BSE risk” country. This isolated incidence is unlikely to change that status. The cow is Canada’s 19th domestic case of BSE, and just its third case in the past five years. “The Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC) takes the management of BSE very seriously and along with its members, fully supports the efforts by federal and provincial governments and our fellow industry partners to eventually eradicate this disease,” said Coalition Chair Jennifer MacTavish. According to the Coalition, the surveillance program’s objectives are to determine and monitor the level of BSE present in Canada and to confirm the effectiveness of the measures Canada has implemented to protect human and animal health from the disease. By following OIE guidelines BSE is on the decline in Canada and globally. “This latest case proves the critical importance of Canada’s investment in animal health surveillance,” Executive Director Mark Beaven added. The CAHC has complete confidence in the Canadian Surveillance Program and in the investigation underway by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).