German officials have identified one beef cow with a case of bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), the fatal neurological disorder also known as “Mad Cow Disease.” This is Germany’s first reported case since 2009. The cow was killed and its body destroyed, with none of the meat entering the human food chain. Health officials said that the animal showed no symptoms of BSE when it was initially slaughtered for consumption, but, because it was 10 years old, it underwent a BSE test. That’s when it tested positive for an atypical type of BSE, L-type, which develops spontaneously in older cattle. Epidemiological tracebacks identified seven offspring of the cow, five of which were already slaughtered. The other two were still on the cow’s farm of origin, where they were tested and subsequently killed, according to protocol for handling BSE cases. The diseased cow’s herd is under quarantine until clearing further testing, although BSE is not considered contagious. The incident is not expected to alter Germany’s beef consumption or rules regarding BSE. Germany’s BSE screening protocols require any beef cattle older than eight years to automatically be tested for BSE. Germany’s first cases of BSE were discovered in 2000. The country has seen a total of 312 cases, compared to the United Kingdom’s 183,000 and the United States’ four. The first known case of BSE occurred in the U.K. in 1986. Since then, more than 150 people in the U.K. have fallen ill and died from the human counterpart to BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). The disease originated with the practice of feeding cattle meat and bone meal to cattle herds as a substitute for soy beans, which can be difficult to grow in Europe. Humans can contract vCJD from eating meat contaminated with brain or spinal tissue from cattle infected with BSE, which is not destroyed when cooked. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced plans to ease regulations on beef imports in regard to BSE. The U.S. has banned beef imports from Europe since 1998 due to mad cow scares. The latest USDA move would align the U.S. with international policies on BSE, while potentially opening up U.S. beef exports to new markets. The U.S. was recently adjusted to the safest classification for BSE risk, according to international standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health. The most recent case of BSE in the U.S. occurred in 2012 in a California dairy cow which had developed the L-type BSE as in the latest German case. The other three U.S. cases occurred in 2003, 2004 and 2006. Another 19 BSE cases have occurred in Canada, the first being a 1993 case in a cow imported from the U.K. In the U.S. and other countries regulating BSE, cattle feed can no longer contain the meat of other ruminant animals. USDA runs a surveillance program for BSE, and slaughterhouses are required to remove the brains and spinal cords from all carcasses.

  • Oginikwe

    More questions than answers in this article. First, the case from Brazil needs to be cited:

    Brazil Kept Mad Cow Secret for Two Years (Food Safety News) 12/10/2012:

    Then: “. . .it tested positive for an atypical type of BSE, L-type, which develops spontaneously in older cattle.” Since when was this discovered/decided? Just like they tell us that it’s “normal” for older people to develop cancer when cancer used to be a rare disease? This smacks of more of making the abnormal “normal.”

    “The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced plans to ease regulations on beef imports . . .” Why are we importing beef at all? We can meet all of our domestic needs and don’t need to import beef.

    “In the U.S. and other countries regulating BSE, cattle feed can no longer contain the meat of other ruminant animals.” While that is true, we feed chickens ruminants and then turn around and feed chicken by-products to the cows giving consumers a false sense of security:
    We Feed Cows Chicken Poop:

  • KatMT

    What about the dog food…I have heard of dogs getting mad cow. Are they using “downer cow” or BSE cows for dog food ? I am only hearing about the “human food chain” …..!

  • BB

    I’m just trying to comment before Terry S. Singeltary Sr.:)

  • flame4justice

    If the USA tested more then there might be more BSE cases. Even if they found BSE from more testing you couldn’t rely on being told the truth by anyone.

  • Nathália Kneipp Sena

    The veterinarians who say atypical BSE is not transmissible should volunteer to participate in researches that will present a conclusion about this matter. Many CJD cases in Parana, Curitiba (Brasil, same place as the cow with BSE) are not going to be counted. The day people with transmissible spongiform encephalopaties start to be counted (and be in the news) just like the BSE cows, than things will start to change. A CJD planetary Occurrrence Map is a MUST, it will show the clusters…different routes of transmission.

    • Oginikwe

      How is it that the cases in Brasil aren’t being counted? That doesn’t make any sense . . .

      • Nathália Kneipp Sena

        First of all, if atypical BSE is something “spontaneous” in old cattle (lets say a result of inflamation process), I find it hard to believe that among 200 million heads of cattle in the all history of this country we have found just one animal with BSE. As for TSEs in humans, the ones I say that the cases are not being counted, the plot is the following: Notificiation for TSEs is mandatory in Brazil, the forms were basically copied from the Canadian version, which is good (Canadians do a good job), but incomplete. As the V..I.P. (very important problem) CJD is only vCJD or nvCJD (sCJD, even being iatrogenic doesn´t seem to matter to anyone except the victim and the family) and this is revealed only by hystopathology, the discovery of their incident depends on tonsil, olfatory or brain biopsies or autopsy. Pathologists in Brazil refuse to do autopsies (what happened to my mother, for example) saying they might be contaminated with prions in the process. The people that should work in order to make autopsies possible, are working against a definite diagnosis, therefore many individuals with the diagnosis of hypothetical CJD will not have a final word stating that they had indeed this disease. Therefore, they will not be counted as CJD cases, they will be in the statics that indicate the cause of death as pneumonia… etc. Does it make sense to you now?

        • Oginikwe

          Thank you for explaining that. Yes, it makes perfect sense when someone wants to manipulate the data.