LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The first case of mad cow disease in the U.S. in six years has been reported in Central California, according to USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford. However, officials say there is no cause for alarm.
"As part of our targeted surveillance system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation's fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California," Clifford announced Tuesday.
KNX 1070's Vytas Safronikas reports it's the fourth-such case discovered in the U.S. since regulators began inspecting for the disease to keep the food supply safe and the first new case since 2006.
"The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed. It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE."
Cases of the disease have declined significantly in recent years. In 2009, there were only 29 cases of BSE across the globe, as opposed to 37,311 cases in 1992.
The government will share the cow's laboratory results with international animal health reference laboratories in Canada and England. It will also conduct an epidemiological investigation with animal and public health officials in California.
"USDA remains confident in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products. As the epidemiological investigation progresses, USDA will continue to communicate findings in a timely and transparent manner," Clifford said.
Jim Roth, of Iowa State's Food Safety and Public Health Center and a highly respected mad cow expert, said the California case was atypical.
The cow's own brain proteins "misfolded" and caused the disease spontaneously, he said. The rate at which this occurs in the United States is one in "tens of millions," Roth added.
Atypical mad cow disease is not known to be transmissible and could not make a human or other animal sick.
No details have been released about the company or farm that owned the animal.
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