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CFIA finds 12th mad cow

A six-year-old dairy cow from Alberta was confirmed Tuesday as Canada’s latest case of mad cow disease.

As in every case since bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was first found in Canada in 2003, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported the animal’s carcass is under agency control and no part of it went into the food or feed system.

CFIA also stressed that this case won’t affect Canada’s “controlled risk” country status, as categorized last year by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). “Based on science, it is not expected that this case should impact access to any of Canada’s current international markets for cattle and beef,” the agency wrote in a news release Tuesday.

The cow becomes Canada’s 12th confirmed case of BSE, without counting a case found in Washington state in late 2003 that was traced back to an Alberta farm and is usually credited to Canada.

Though this cow was born after Canada first imposed a ban on ruminant-to-ruminant feeding in 1997, its age and location “are consistent with previous cases detected in Canada.” It marks Alberta’s ninth case of BSE, not counting the Washington case.

CFIA said it’s still “fully expected” to find a small number of BSE cases in the herd from time to time as the country works its way toward eliminating the disease.

The agency now moves into the usual investigation mode to track down the animal’s birth herd and the “potential pathways” by which it might have picked up prions, the misfolded proteins that cause BSE.

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