BSE case confirmed in British Columbia
July 3, 2008
On June 23, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow in the Province of British Columbia. The agency confirmed on June 27 the animal was a five-year-old Holstein cow.
According to the CFIA, the animal’s age is consistent with previous Canadian cases, which range from 50 months to 192 months of age. It also indicates that this animal was exposed to a very low amount of infective material, probably during its first year of life. CFIA says this case poses no risk to human or animal health since Canada’s safeguards prevented any part of the animal’s carcass from entering the human food chain or any potentially infective parts of the animal’s carcass from entering the animal feed chain.
According to the CFIA, Canada’s enhanced feed ban, introduced last summer, virtually eliminates the potential spread of BSE through the animal feed chain and places Canada on an accelerated path to eliminate BSE. As the level of BSE continues to decline, the periodic detection of a small number of cases is fully expected in line with the experience of other countries.
The national surveillance program, which targets the highest risk animals, has tested more than 220,000 cattle since 2003, according to the CFIA. The program continues to benefit from very strong producer participation.
The CFIA continues to investigate and gather additional information about the animal’s background, including tracing the animal’s herdmates at birth, as defined by international BSE response guidelines. The CFIA will also undertake a comprehensive feed investigation to examine how this animal became infected.
In response to the announcement, R-CALF USA and 10 additional plaintiffs filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority with the District Court – District of South Dakota, Northern Division on July 1. The Notice informs the District Court about the latest case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) detected in Canada and provides other new information that supports the Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) OTM (over-30-month) Rule. The OTM Rule, which took effect Nov. 19, 2007, opened the Canadian border to imports of live cattle born after March 1, 1999, and beef products from Canadian cattle of any age.
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“This animal, which was born in 2003, is the second-youngest bovine found to have BSE in Canada and was born more recently than any other BSE-infected cattle identified in Canada,” the Notice states in part. “There have now been 14 reported cases of BSE in cattle born in Canada. Half of the BSE cases detected in Canadian-born cattle have been in cattle born after March 1, 1999 (the date that defendant United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) concluded, in the rulemaking at issue in this case, was the date on which Canada’s ban on ruminant protein in ruminant feed was effective to stop the spread of BSE). This is the eighth reported case that was born after the Canadian feed ban went into effect in 1997. It also is the third reported case that was born and raised in British Columbia province.”
The Plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the imports of OTM Canadian cattle and beef until the District Court completes its review of the merits of their claims. A hearing on the preliminary injunction motion was held in Sioux Falls, SD on Feb. 19, 2008. The District Court has not yet ruled on the preliminary injunction.