|Traffic | Weather | Your account||Movies | Restaurants | Today's events|
Alabama cow is third U.S. case of brain-wasting disease
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A cow in Alabama has tested positive for mad-cow disease, the Agriculture Department said Monday, confirming the third U.S. case of the brain-wasting ailment.
The cow did not enter the food supply for people or animals, officials said. The animal, unable to walk, was euthanized by a local veterinarian and buried on the farm.
"We remain very confident in the safety of U.S. beef," said the department's chief veterinarian, John Clifford.
Authorities said the farm was under an informal quarantine but would not say where it was.
"We will not release this information until we complete our investigation, and that could take a few days," said Ron Sparks, Alabama's agriculture commissioner.
The animal was identified as a Santa Gertrudis beef cow that was thought to be at least 10 years old. That means that it was likely born before the U.S. government imposed its chief safeguard against the disease: a 1997 ban on using meat and bone meal as a protein supplement in cattle feed. The disease is thought to spread through contaminated feed.
The Alabama case is the latest blow to the U.S. beef industry, which has been struggling to regain key Asian markets, Japan and South Korea, that were lost when the nation's first case of the disease was discovered in 2003. Those two countries accounted for $1.9 billion in U.S. beef exports that year.
The cow had spent less than a year at the farm before it died, officials said. Federal and state investigators are working to determine where it was born and raised and locate its herd mates and offspring. Sparks said there are no suspect animals on the Alabama farm.
Mad-cow disease is the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
The first U.S. case of mad-cow disease appeared in December 2003 and involved a Canadian-born cow in Washington state. The disease was found again last June in a cow that was born and raised in Texas.
In humans, eating meat products contaminated with BSE has been linked to more than 150 deaths, mostly in Britain, from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare and fatal brain disease.
Material from The Des Moines Register is included in this report.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company