case of mad cow disease in the United States has been detected in Washington
state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement.
formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was found recently
in Canada. More common in Europe, the illness has led to more than 100
Secretary Ann Veneman confirmed the case during a news conference.
told reporters the case involved a Holstein cow. The cow would not have
become part of the food supply in any case – it was sick or injured before
it tested “presumptively positive” for the illness. In addition, the farm
in Washington state where the cow was found has been quarantined.
In a sign
of how serious the government is taking the case, Veneman said a laboratory
in England is being shipped samples from the cow by military transport
for further testing.
case involved a cow in the province of Alberta that was slaughtered in
January. It led the U.S. government to cut off beef shipments across the
U.S.-Canadian border, severely impacting the beef industry – and the truckers
who haul the beef.
case has already spurred a similar reaction among some of the United States’ trading
AP reported Dec. 23 that eight nations in Asia have banned American
beef imports, and some – including Japan, the No. 1 importer of U.S.
beef, and South Korea, the No. 2 importer – will recall what is already
on the shelves. By Dec. 24, No. 3 U.S. beef customer Mexico had joined
the list of countries exercising a ban.
spongiform encephalopathy is a chronic, degenerative disease affecting
the central nervous system of cattle, according to the USDA Web site. Worldwide,
more than 180,000 cases have been reported since it was first diagnosed
in 1986 in Great Britain. More than 95 percent of all mad cow cases have
been in that country.
no treatment, the USDA said, and all affected cattle die.
form of the disease is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. That illness is
thought to be caused by people eating parts of an affected cow such as
brain and spinal cord.