Atypical case of BSE detected in South Carolina

The U.S. has reported an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in a beef cow approximately five years old or older at a slaughter plant in South Carolina.  The animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply or to human health in the U.S. The radio frequency identification tag present on the animal is associated with a herd in Tennessee.  APHIS and veterinary officials in South Carolina and Tennessee are gathering more information during this ongoing investigation.

This is the nation’s 7th detection of BSE, of the six previous U.S. cases, the first, in 2003 was the only case of classical BSE, which was from a cow imported from Canada.  The rest of the cases have been atypical BSE.  The animal was tested as part of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s routine surveillance of cattle that are deemed unsuitable for slaughter.   

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association chief veterinarian Dr. Kathy Simmons says USDA’s ongoing BSE surveillance program has tested more than one million cattle since the program began, ensuring that the agency’s interlocking supply chain safety products are working.  She says the incidence of BSE in the U.S. is extremely low and will remain so. 

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association president Justin Tupper says the swift detection of this case proves that the systems and protocols put in place are working.  He says the organization is grateful to the nationwide team of veterinarians, animal health officials, meat inspectors, and others who ensure the well-being of the U.S. cattle herd.  

Atypical BSE generally occurs in older cattle and seems to arise rarely and spontaneously in all cattle populations. 

The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) recognizes the U.S. as negligible risk for BSE, the lowest possible risk in the world.  Per WOAH guidelines in determining this status, atypical BSE cases do not impact official BSE risk status and this finding of an atypical case will not change the negligible risk status of the U.S., and should not lead to any trade issues.  

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