A new case of mad cow disease has been found in a California dairy cow. The Agriculture of Department said that the animal was not part of the nation’s food supply and that there was no cause for alarm.
Quickly after the disease was discovered the USDA called a press conference. John Clifford, the department’s chief veterinary officer, said:
“There is really no concern for alarm here with regards to this animal. Both human health and animal health are protected with regards to this issue.”
The Associated Press reports that the disease was discovered during regular USDA sample testing. The USDA tests about 40,000 cows per year. This is the fourth confirmed case of mad cow disease in the United States since 2003.
Clifford said that the cow was at a rendering plant in Central California but did not give any specifics about when the disease was discovered. Clifford did say, however, that the discovery shows that the USDA’s system to prevent the disease from entering the food supply is working. Clifford said:
“Evidence shows that our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) are working, as are similar actions taken by countries around the world.”
The disease, according to the World Health Organization, can be contracted by humans who eat tainted beef. Humans cannot contract the disease from drinking milk. The disease can be fatal to humans and is nearly always fatal in cattle. In 1993, a massive outbreak in the UK killed 180,000 cows and 150 people.
Reuters reports that after news broke about the mad cow disease in California, cattle futures dropped the maximum daily limit of 3 cents per pound. In 2004, after the first case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United States, beef exports plunged nearly 75 percent.