Yesterday the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the birthdate of the beef cow in Alberta detected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The affected animal was born in March 2009, 21 months after the July 2007 implementation of the enhanced feed ban in Canada.
It is not unprecedented to find a small number of additional cases of BSE following the implementation of enhanced feeding measures, as demonstrated by the UK and countries around the globe. Scientific study and the findings from on-farm investigations in the UK concluded that a small amount of residual feed produced prior to the implementation of enhanced control measures was the most likely reason for these cases, commonly referred to in the UK as Born After the Reinforced Ban (BARB) classical BSE cases.
As part of its ongoing investigation, the CFIA will determine the source of the feed used at the birth farm in 2009 and assess any potential risk factors in relation to the feeds used. CFIA inspectors will also review the records of the feed mills from which the feeds were sourced to verify compliance with the enhanced feed ban.
This information is key to pinpointing the source of transmission. The average incubation period for classical BSE is 4-7 years of age. Transmission usually occurs in the first year of an animal’s life, as that is when they are most susceptible; thus the exposure to any residual risk would have occurred years ago.
Canada’s beef industry takes BSE seriously and the detection of this case demonstrates that the national BSE surveillance system works.
Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association