If foreign countries ban U. S. beef, it could become significantly cheaper here.
Mad Cow Disease Confirmed In California Dairy Cow, USDA Says
Posted: 04/24/2012 3:08 pm
The USDA has confirmed that a case of mad cow disease was found in a California dairy cow. It is the fourth case of mad cow, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), found in U.S. cattle since the first in December 2003.
USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford said Tuesday afternoon that the cow did not enter the human food chain and that all U.S. meat and dairy supplies are safe. Further mitigating the risk to the public, milk does not transmit BSE.
According to the USDA, the animal's carcass is being held under state authority at a California rendering facility and will be destroyed. "It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health," Clifford said.
Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, told ABC News that it was unlikely any more cows would contract BSE. “Mad cow occurs in animals as it does in humans — rarely and sporadically. At this point, I would not expect there to be another cow to be found,” he said.
The animal tested positive for a case of "atypical" BSE, "a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed," the USDA said.
The Associated Press reports:
"There is really no cause for alarm here with regard to this animal," Clifford told reporters at a hastily convened press conference.
Clifford did not say when the disease was discovered or exactly where the cow was raised. He said the cow was at a rendering plant in Central California when the case was discovered through regular USDA sample testing.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. The World Health Organization has said that tests show that humans cannot be infected by drinking milk from BSE-infected animals.
The disease is always fatal in cattle, however. There have been three confirmed cases of BSE in the United states, in a Canadian-born cow in 2003 in Washington state, in 2005 in Texas and in 2006 in Alabama.
In people, eating meat contaminated with BSE is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare and deadly nerve disease. A massive outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom that peaked in 1993 was blamed for the deaths of 180,000 cattle and more than 150 people.
There have been a handful of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease confirmed in people living in the United States, but those were linked to meat products in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The USDA said that they have begun notifying authorities at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as well as U.S. trading partners. The USDA does not expect the detection of mad cow to affect U.S. beef exports.
The Wall Street Journal, however, notes the possible trade repercussions:
Analysts said the biggest risk to the beef market from a confirmed case would be if large international beef customers such as Japan and South Korea were to impose a temporary ban, but they said that new bans were unlikely if the animal was kept out of the food chain.
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports that it takes about 15 years for a human to show signs of mad cow disease. Therefore, once a person exhibits signs of the disease, it is way too late to take the meat out of the food system. "If even one person ate U.S. meat and got sick from mad cow disease, it would just be devastating," she says.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released a statement Tuesday afternoon (read the full statement below), concluding, "The bottom line remains the same – all U.S. beef is safe." "The U.S. beef community has collaborated with and worked with animal health experts and government to put in place multiple interlocking safeguards over the past two decades to prevent BSE from taking hold in the United States," the organization said.
Cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell the exchange limit of 3 cents (2.6%) Tuesday afternoon to $1.11575 a pound, the lowest level since July.
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