Canada Farm Quarantined in Suspected Mad Cow Case
WINNIPEG Canada has quarantined an Alberta farm and is testing a dairy cow that was heavily pregnant and suspected of having mad cow disease, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Monday.
"The investigation is still in its very preliminary stages. We will, of course, be checking out its 2004 or 2005 calf, if they were born. If they were born, these animals are of interest to us," said George Luterbach, a veterinarian with the federal food safety agency.
"The animal was in its last trimester, or heavily pregnant, so its 2006 progeny or calf was not born," said Luterbach.
The CFIA is testing the 50-month-old cow after it died on an Alberta farm near the Alberta capital of Edmonton. It was singled out through a surveillance program for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. Preliminary tests were not able to rule out BSE.
"The animals on this farm are animals that are under quarantine," said Luterbach.
The veterinarian didn't know how many animals were on the farm and emphasized the property was in the preliminary stages of investigation. The cow suspected of having BSE was born on the farm where it died and did not enter the human food or animal feed supply, he said.
More test results are due by the end of the week, he said.
If tests prove positive for the brain-wasting disease, this would be Canada's seventh case since 2003, when international markets initially banned Canadian beef and cattle. Many countries have gradually reopened their borders, with various restrictions.
U.S. cattle markets appeared to be unaffected by the news of the latest suspected mad cow case.
"I don't think it will have a big effect," Dennis Smith, a livestock broker with Archer Financial, said of the cattle market's reaction.
Another mad cow case should not cause the U.S. to halt beef and cattle trading between the two countries, analysts said.
Last week, the CFIA confirmed Canada's sixth mad cow case since 2003.
The brain wasting disease is believed to be spread by contaminated feed. The suspect Alberta cow was born after Canada's 1997 feed ban, when the inclusion of protein from ruminants such as cattle and sheep was banned from cattle feed.
That ban will be expanded in July 2007 when specific cattle tissues, including the brain and spinal cord, capable of transmitting mad cow disease, will be banned from all livestock and pet feed.
The CFIA aims to eliminate mad cow disease within the next 10 years.
(Additional reporting by Bob Burgdorfer in Chicago)