Statement By Dr. Ron DeHaven Administrator, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
January 7, 2005
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in their investigation of the Canadian dairy cow that recently tested positive for BSE. This investigation is focused on identifying birth cohorts - animals born in the same herd within one year of the affected animal. The preliminary investigation has shown that one of these birth cohorts was imported into the United States in February 2002 for immediate slaughter. USDA, in collaboration with FDA, is currently tracing the disposition of this animal and will provide further details as the investigation evolves.
"Even at the height of BSE infection in Europe and the United Kingdom, it was extremely rare to have more than one animal in the same herd affected with BSE, therefore USDA believes it is extremely unlikely that this imported cow would have been infected. Nevertheless, as was the case in May 2003, when Canada had its first case of BSE and a small number of birth cohorts were traced to the United States, USDA will make every reasonable effort to obtain and provide information about the disposition of this animal as well as any other birth cohorts that are traced to the United States through Canada's epidemiological investigation.
"USDA and FDA have had a strong program in place for years to protect the U.S. livestock population from BSE. Import controls on live cattle and certain ruminant products from countries at high risk of BSE were put in place more than 15 years ago. In 1997, both the United States and Canada finalized animal feed bans, which are the single most important safeguard to prevent the spread of the disease through the cattle population. Public and animal health in the United States and Canada have also been protected through ongoing surveillance efforts and inspection of animals at slaughter for neurological signs, and now by the removal of specified risk materials from the human food supply.
"USDA also continues the enhanced BSE surveillance program that began in June 2004. To date, more than 170,000 targeted animals have been tested for BSE. All samples have been negative."