January 05, 2004

 

US Mad Cow Infected In Canada

 

The U.S. cow found to be infected with mad cow disease was likely infected with the neurological disease through feed it consumed while very young and living in Canada before it was shipped to the U.S., a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said Friday.

 

Ron DeHaven, USDA's chief veterinarian, said Friday: "Our primary line of inquiry does indeed take us back to a farm in Alberta, Canada ... and that would suggest that the contaminated feed would have been fed (to the cow) at that farm in Alberta, Canada."

 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is leading the investigation on possible feed contamination in Canada, and USDA officials are assisting, DeHaven said.

 

He said a rendering facility in Edmonton, Canada, where livestock feed is produced, is being investigated for a possible connection to the cow that tested positive for BSE in the U.S in December and to the case that Canada reported in May.

 

USDA believes BSE can spread through cattle feed if the feed contains infected animal parts. Both Canada and the U.S. banned the practice of adding ruminant material to cattle feed in 1997.

 

USDA officials have said they believe the BSE-infected cow found in the U.S. was between six and six-and-a-half years old when it was slaughtered in the state of Washington, making it just older than the ruminant bans for feed.

 

DeHaven, speaking to reporters at a press conference, said that before the feed bans were in place, ruminant meat and bonemeal were typically used to supplement the feed of dairy cattle at an early age.

 

"That would strongly suggest that the contaminated feed was not fed to the animal (in the U.S.) at ... the herd where it was immediately before going to slaughter," he said.

 

USDA has traced the cow's origin back a herd in Canada through paperwork, but officials said they are waiting for DNA testing to provide further proof. DeHaven said he expects those test results to be finished by early next week.