The USDA confirmed on Tuesday that a new case of mad cow disease had been detected in a dairy cow in California. Only three cases of mad cow or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) have been found in cattle in the United States of America previously.
According to a report by The Huffington Post, USDA's chief veterinary officer, John Clifford, said that the animal's body was being held under state authority and would be destroyed.
USDA claims that the cow did not become part of the human food chain and that meat and dairy both are safe.
"It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health," Clifford said.
Baker Commodities at Los Angeles confirmed the news that the affected cow was found in Hanford, California, transfer station and it was randomly picked for sampling.
Executive vice president of Baker Commodities, Dennis Luckey, gave details about the incident, saying samples were taken from the cow on Wednesday and sent to UC Davis for testing the same day, but results were not clear. Luckey told that the samples were then sent to a USDA lab in Iowa for further investigation. The company found out on Tuesday that the final results were positive when the USDA broke the news.
It should be noted that the disease is relatively rare in US, only four animals have been diagnosed since 2003 - which shows that control measures are effective.
“That translates into one of the lowest rates of BSE in any nation that has ever diagnosed a case,” said James H. Hodges, executive vice president of the American Meat Institute.
However, LotteMart of South Korea, one of the world's biggest importer of US beef, has halted the sales of American beef for the time being.
Eating contaminated meat or some other animal product from cattle that have BSE is thought to be the cause of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, which is a fatal brain disease. Since 2004, the USDA has removed the brain and the spinal column from the food chain, since these parts are suspected of causing mad cow disease in humans.
In this case of California cow, the origin of the disease remains unknown. Government officials believe that contaminated food was not the source and it is a rare variant not generally associated with animal consuming infected feed.
Washington Post reported Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak as saying, “USDA has no reason to believe any other U.S. animals are currently affected, but we will remain vigilant and committed to the safeguards in place.”