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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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U.S. Completes Investigation of BSE-Infected Cow in Texas

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter July/August 2005 Volume XX, No IV

After investigating the report of a cow in Texas found in June to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Federal officials reported that appropriate safeguards were in place and working, which prevented the further spread of the disease.

The infected animal was destroyed and did not get into the food, feed, or pet food supply, officials said. This was the first native born cow in the United States found to be infected with BSE.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is in charge of tracking and preventing animal disease, reported the infected animal to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 24, 2005. To determine if any other animals or offspring of animals from the herd of the infected animal were infected with BSE, USDA tracked down as many as it could of the 200 adult and 213 calves associated with the infected animals. No additional BSE was found.

Meanwhile, FDA officials, along with the Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service, investigated the sources of feed given the infected animal to see if they could discover the source of the infectious material. In addition, the Federal and State authorities tracked the disposition of all animals associated with the infected cow to be sure the provisions of FDA’s 1997 BSE rule were followed.

The investigation concluded that the 1997 feed rule, which prohibits the feeding of most mammalian protein to cattle and other ruminants, was being followed. At an August 30 press teleconference, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that the investigation revealed that all companies involved were complying with the 1997 BSE feed rule.

FDA’s investigation identified 21 feed products used on the farm. FDA and State investigators went to three retail feed stores that had supplied the feed, and to nine feed mills that made the feed. According to Dr. Sundlof, “This investigation found no feed products used on the farm since 1997 had been formulated to contain prohibited mammalian protein.”

According to Dr. Sundlof, the infected cow, which was approximately 12 years old, had “very likely consumed contaminated feed well before 1997….”

The animals associated with the infected cow were properly handled during slaughter and disposition under the feed rule, Dr. Sundlof said: “The investigation into the disposition of herd-mates from this farm involved visits to nine slaughter plants and eight rendering plants. The investigation found that all rendering plants were operating in compliance with the BSE ruminant feed rule. A review of the inspection history of each of these rendering firms found no violation.”

On October 6, FDA announced proposed rules to further reduce the risk of BSE in the United States. The proposal would ban certain high risk cattle material from use in all feeds and pet foods. (See related story on page 1, “FDA Proposes Tighter Feed Ban to Prevent BSE.”)