July 15, 2003
Single Case of BSE Discovered in Canada
On Tuesday, May 20, 2003, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow in the Province of Alberta. Bobby Acord, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, was informed of the matter by Dr. Sarah Kahn, deputy chief veterinary officer and director, Animal Health and Production Division, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, about the single case.
Due to this reporting, the USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services placed a temporary ban on the importation of all live ruminants -- such as cattle, sheep, goats, cervids, camelids -- as well as ruminant meat, ruminant meat products and other ruminant products from Canada. APHIS believed the emergency measures were necessary to minimize risk to livestock, livestock producers and other industries in the United States.
The prohibition went into effect at 1:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on May 20, 2003.
The following week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced that herd-mates of the infected six-year-old, BSE-positive cow had been depopulated and tested. Both the initial and second round of testing on all 187 cattle provided negative results, meaning that no other animal in the herd had contracted the disease.
The same week, 17 herds totaling about 2,000 animals, were quarantined due to the belief that the infected cow may have rotated through the herds during its lifetime. Canadian authorities slaughtered and tested the animals in an effort to track down the origin of the single, positive case.
The carcass of the infected cow was rendered and made into dog food and distributed through Pet Pantry International of Carson City, Nev., through which products are purchased either by e-mail or telephone and delivered by franchises to consumers? homes. It is estimated that only 1,300 50-pound bags of dog food are involved. The company issued a voluntary recall of the product.
Consumers should search for two products: ?Maintenance Diet? with a ?use by? date of ?17FEB04? and ?Beef with Barley? with a date of ?05MAR04.? If consumers find product meeting these criteria, they should call Pet Pantry International at 1-800-381-7387 and hold the food for pickup.
There is no known risk to dogs and no evidence that dogs can contract BSE. The voluntary return is merely a precautionary measure to prevent discarded dog food from getting mixed with feed for cattle, sheep or other ruminants.
At press time, Canadian and U.S. officials were working closely together to determine how the BSE-positive cow contracted the disease. All tracing on the infected animal, both front and back, has yielded no indication of any risk to the United States.
According to APHIS, decisions to re-open the borders between the two countries are pending. U.S. officials are looking at opportunities to allow low or no-risk products to be imported. However, the decision will be approached objectively and cautiously and will be based on scientific findings and the level of risk involved.
It was reported the first week of June that some bulls from a Canadian herd under investigation were moved into Montana. The herd was depopulated, and the cattle all tested negative for BSE.
The United States has never had a reported case of BSE, despite vigilant testing for the disease. A strong surveillance program has been in effect since 1990. In 2002 alone, more than 20,000 animals were tested.