US health officials have detected an atypical case of “mad cow disease” in a beef cow at a slaughter plant in South Carolina, they announced in a statement on Friday, May 19.
The US Department of Agriculture said the animal “never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health in the United States.” In addition, the agency said that the United States has a “negligible risk status” for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), as the neurologic disease is officially called, and “we do not expect any trade impacts as a result of this finding.”
This atypical variant of BSE seldom occurs in older cattle, while the classic form of BSE spreads when farmers feed their herds with infected animals’ meat and bone meal. However, the classic form poses more danger to humans. The classic BSE is linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) if contaminated meat is eaten. CJD is a rare brain disorder that leads to dementia. It belongs to a group of human and animal diseases known as prion disorders. Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease. But Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease usually gets worse much faster and leads to death, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This is the nation’s 7th detection of BSE. Of the six previous US cases, the first, in 2003, was a case of classical BSE in a cow imported from Canada; the rest have been atypical (H-or L-type) BSE, officials said.
The US health agency is confident the new finding “will not change the negligible risk status of the United States, and should not lead to any trade issues.”
The non-crisis-ness of this news is great news as the specter of Mad Cow only recently passed from one of it’s last areas of concern: Blood Donation. Catch the details of that on Episode 5 of Generation Health