|New Case of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S.|
A new case of mad cow disease has been identified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at a Baker Commodities plant near Hanford, California. It is the first new case of the disease reported since 2006 and only the fourth to ever be identified in the United States.
The cow died at a dairy and was transported with other dead cows to the plant. While displaying no outward symptoms of the disease, such as unsteadiness, incoordination, a drastic change in behavior or low milk production, it was one of the cows selected for random testing that met government criteria. Initial testing indicated it could have bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a disease that is fatal to cows and can cause a deadly human brain disease in people who eat tainted meat, so it was sent to a USDA lab in Iowa for further testing.
The USDA tests confirmed that the animal had atypical BSE, meaning it did not get the disease from eating infected cattle feed and was likely a random mutation. It is unknown whether the cow died from the disease. The findings, however, are causing unrest in some consumers.
Experts say, however, that the cases of mad cow disease that plagued England in the 1990s was caused when livestock routinely at protein supplements that included ground brain tissue, which is not what happened in this case. They do not expect this case to affect beef exports and testing will be performed on other cows that lived in the same herd as a precaution.
As there have only been four cases of BSE uncovered since 2003 with more than 35 million cattle slaughtered each year and experts will argue that the risk of BSE arriving at your dinner table is extremely low.