Canada Mad Cow Disease: Officials ‘Not Too Concerned’ About New Case

Officials in Canada have confirmed the country’s first case of mad cow disease since 2011, but they have expressed that it is most likely to be the only one, and it shouldn’t affect any operations.

According to a report from Reuters, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said in a statement that the beef cow with the disease was discovered in Alberta, but it did not make it to the animal feed systems or to human food.

“The CFIA is seeking to confirm the age of the animal, its history and how it became infected. The investigation will focus in on the feed supplied to this animal during the first year of its life.”

John Masswohl, the director of government and international relations at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, confirmed that the infected cattle’s body also never made it to a packing plant.

“Overall we are not too concerned there will be much impact.”

Mad cow disease is formerly known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which is described as “a progressive, fatal neurological disease.” The cause of mad cow disease is believed to come from when cattle eat protein stemming from brains and spines of other cattle or sheep that were infected. This method was banned by Canada in 1997.

One case of mad cow disease in 2003 badly affected beef exports in Canada and many nations halted trade operations. Canada made some adjustments, which led to nations resuming beef trades, even though there have been several cases since the one in 2003.

Dennis Laycraft, the executive vice president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, told CBC News that this one incident of mad cow disease shouldn’t do much harm to the exporting of beef.

“We would have preferred never to have seen another case, but recognizing that these types of very isolated cases have occurred before, at this stage I’d call it disappointing and hopefully the last one we see.”

Dave Solverson, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said this will probably be the only case of mad cow disease in Canada.

“It’s very unlikely there will be more cases found.”

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told reporters that producers should not be concerned right now.

“I don’t see this as interfering with any of our trade corridors at this time.”

While this new case may not lead to nations halting trade operations with Canada, it could postpone the country’s attempt to upgrade its international status with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). As of right now, Canada is allowed to report 12 cases of mad cow disease per year.

[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]