Testing at the National Center for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg has confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a cow from British Columbia. As reported on April 13, 2006, samples from this animal were sent to Winnipeg for additional testing after screening tests produced inconclusive results.
This animal, a six-year-old dairy cow, was born at least two years after the imposition of a ban on cattle parts in feed meant for cattle, the suspected source of BSE infection.
The cow was discovered on a farm in Fraser Valley in British Columbia as part of the nation's BSE surveillance program, which has tested more than 100,000 high-risk cattle since 2003. The test was deemed inconclusive, and samples were sent to the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Officials of the Canadian Cattlemenâ€™s Association say that even if this younger animal tests positive, that result would be consistent with results in Europe, where cases were discovered well after feed bans were enacted, most due to contamination or improper cleaning of feed containers, as well as cross-contamination from feed meant for other animals or feed imported from countries with no feed bans.
A statement from Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says USDA will dispatch an animal health expert to Canada on Monday to participate in the epidemiological investigation.
"Information gathered through this investigation will help us to determine what, if any, impact this should have on our beef and live cattle trade with Canada," says Johanns. "Based on the information currently available, I do not anticipate a change in the status of our trade."
Last year Canada tested 57,768 animals and in the first three months of this year nearly 17,000. The target test number for 2005 was about 30,000.
In recent days a request by the U.S. trade group R-CALF for a permanent injunction against all Canadian beef has been denied by the U.S. District Court in Billings, Mont. The case had been pending before Judge Richard Cebull since July.
"This is great news for cattle producers, and one that weâ€™ve been awaiting for a long time," says Hugh Lynch-Staunton, president of the Canadian Cattlemenâ€™s Association. "When the border reopened to under-30-month-of-age feeder and slaughter cattle last July, many Canadians thought the BSE issue was over. We in the cattle industry were well aware that a decision against us in the court in Montana could have shut the border again."
R-CALF could appeal Judge Cebullâ€™s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court. However, the Ninth Circuit has already reversed the preliminary injunction ordered by Judge Cebull that temporarily halted the border reopening to Canadian live cattle last year. The Ninth Circuit denied R-CALFâ€™s request for a rehearing of that reversal.