Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

August 24, 2006 22:00 ET

CFIA: BSE Investigation Reaches Conclusion

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 24, 2006) - Investigators from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have concluded their epidemiological investigation of the 50-month-old dairy cow from Alberta diagnosed with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) on July 13, 2006. No part of the animal's carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems.

The animal died of causes unrelated to BSE and would likely have lived for an additional four to six months before the onset of BSE-related clinical signs. This age range is not significantly different from that of previous Canadian cases and indicates exposure to only a very low dose of BSE infectivity. The detection of this case at the earliest possible moment demonstrates the highly sensitive nature of Canada's national BSE surveillance program, which targets cattle from the highest risk populations and has tested more than 117,000 animals since 2003.

Because the animal was exposed to BSE after the 1997 implementation of Canada's feed ban, the CFIA placed priority on conducting a comprehensive review of all potential routes of BSE exposure. In general, investigators observed good levels of compliance with the feed ban at the farm, retail and manufacturing levels. A particular incident was documented in one commercial feed facility that may have permitted the contamination of a single batch of cattle feed with prohibited material. The entire batch of feed was shipped to the BSE-positive animal's farm. While the investigation looked at all possible routes of exposure, this particular batch of feed is the most probable source of infection. The CFIA has launched an enforcement investigation.

In 2005, Canadian and American officials reviewed and confirmed the effectiveness of Canada's feed ban. In addition, the surveillance program continues to indicate that the feed ban has prevented the level of infectivity in Canada from increasing. Nonetheless, the extremely small infective dose of BSE means that even very limited opportunities for contamination may permit periodic cases. The emergence of such cases is common to almost every country reporting the disease. The enhanced feed ban announced on June 26, 2006, will further limit potential BSE spread. Potentially harmful cattle tissues-which are currently prohibited in feeds for cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminants-are being banned from all animal feeds. This action prevents more than 99% of potential infectivity from entering the top of the animal feed chain, thereby addressing any downstream contamination that could occur.

The animal component of the investigation traced 172 cattle born or raised on the same premises as the positive animal. Using Canada's cattle identification system, the CFIA fully accounted for all but eight of these animals and located 38 live cattle. Most of these animals have been humanely euthanized and incinerated. The remainder are under quarantine and will be destroyed once calving or harvesting of genetic material, as allowed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), is complete.

A complete summary of the investigation is available on the CFIA's website.

Report on the Investigation of the Seventh Case of BSE in Canada.

Contact Information

  • CFIA Media relations
    (613) 228-6682