Atypical BSE case found in Germany

Black&Tan Cows_blogGermany has reported its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, since 2009.

The 10-year-old cow showed no clinical signs of the neurological disease, but was tested for BSE because of its age . Its carcass was destroyed and it did not enter the food chain, according to an alert from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

“The identified animal did not enter food supply channels, and so at no time did it present any risk to human health,” OIE wrote.

The cow tested positive for atypical BSE, L-type – a rare form of the disease that is thought to occur spontaneously in older cattle and is typically not associated with the consumption of contaminated feed. The investigation identified seven offspring of the affected cow – five of those animals had already been slaughtered while the other two still were at the farm and have since been destroyed. An additional five cows that were born on the same farm around the same time as BSE-positive cow were also destroyed, the OIE reports. The farm currently is under quarantine.

The disease was first reported in Germany in 2000. Since then, there have been more than 300 reported cases. OIE currently lists Germany as having a controlled BSE risk. The country has strict safeguards in place, including mandatory BSE testing for cattle older than eight years of age. The European Union, of which Germany is a member, also has safeguards in place, including a ban on using feed containing ruminant material. Feed containing this material, which includes the brain and spinal cord, also is banned in the U.S. as it has been linked to BSE transmission.

In 2012, the U.S. reported its fourth ever case of BSE, which occurred in a California dairy cow and also was considered atypical. Thanks to monitoring and prevention programs, the number of BSE cases worldwide has fallen drastically since the disease peaked in the United Kingdom in 1993. In 2013, the U.K. only had two reported cases of the disease.

BSE is a progressive, neurological disease that causes aggression, loss of coordination, decreased milk production and, eventually, death. It is thought to be caused by prions, pathogenic agents that cause abnormal protein folding, which leads to brain damage.

Comments are closed.