July 21, 2006
July 21, 2006 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon begin transitioning to an ongoing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance program that corresponds to the extremely low prevalence of the disease in the U.S.
"It's time that our surveillance efforts reflect what we now know is a very, very low level of BSE in the United States," said Johanns. "This ongoing surveillance program will maintain our ability to detect BSE, provide assurance that our interlocking safeguards are successfully preventing BSE, while continuing to exceed science-based international guidelines."
The ongoing BSE surveillance program will sample approximately 40,000 animals each year. Under the program, USDA will continue to collect samples from a variety of sites and from the cattle populations where the disease is most likely to be detected, similar to the enhanced surveillance program procedures.
The new program will not only comply with the science-based international guidelines set forth by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), it will provide testing at a level ten times higher than the OIE recommended level.
USDA has an obligation to provide a 30-day notice of the change to contractors who are performing the sampling and testing, so the earliest the new surveillance program would begin is late August.
In April, USDA released an analysis of seven years of BSE surveillance data. The analysis concluded that the prevalence of BSE in the United States is less than one case per million adult cattle. The analysis further revealed that the most likely number of cases is between four and seven infected animals out of 42 million adult cattle.
The enhanced surveillance program has been funded using emergency Commodity Credit Corporation funds totaling $157.8 million since June 2004. Ongoing surveillance will cost approximate $17 million per year using funds appropriated by Congress. The President's fiscal year 2007 budget request includes this level of funding.
An outline of the ongoing BSE surveillance plan is available at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/bse.shtml
. Reprinted in part from USDA News Release