Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, was detected  last month in a dairy cow from Alberta, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) acknowledged Friday.

The agency said no part of the slaughtered cow was used for human or animal food and the case should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef. “Detection of a small number of additional BSE cases is fully expected” as Canada continues to progress in eradicating the disease, the agency said in an emailed statement to the online industry publication meatingplace.

Canada is considered a “controlled BSE risk” country, under World Organization for Animal Health rules, following the discovery of a cow with the disease in 2003. Since then, some 313,000 cattle have been tested under a national BSE surveillance program, and 18 cases of the disease have been confirmed. This latest was the first in more than a year.

Numerous markets closed to Canadian beef immediately after 2003. Most countries have since resumed accepting it.

CFIA, citing privacy concerns, did not release details about the farm where the infected cow was found, saying only that the animal was 6 1/2 years old (77 months) and the BSE was confirmed on Feb. 18.  The agency said the case will be posted on the CFIA website on March 10 and reported to the World Organization for Animal Health.


R-CALF USA, which represents some U.S. cattle producers, used confirmation of the new BSE case to renew its call for a change in the over-30-month (OTM) rule that allows the U.S. to import cattle from Canada, so long as they were born after March 1, 1999.

In a news release, the group said, “At just over six years of age, this cow would have been born in 2004 and infected with BSE either in 2004 or 2005, which provides absolute evidence that the BSE agent was circulating in Canada’s feed system long after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared that Canada had its BSE problem under control.”

In a story in the Globe and Mail, Alberta’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Gerald Hauer, downplayed the significance of the finding saying, “Our system is working. This sample came through our BSE surveillance program. It is certainly not unexpected to find new cases. It shouldn’t affect our controlled risk status. It’s really not a major concern.”