Published Date: 2003-05-23 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> BSE, bovine - Canada (Alberta) (04)
Archive Number: 20030523.1271
BSE, BOVINE - CANADA (ALBERTA) (04)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail, a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 23 May 2003
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Canadian Press, 22 May 2003 [edited]
9 cattle herds in Alberta and Saskatchewan have been linked to a breeder
cow infected with mad cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE),
a federal food inspector said. A total of 7 herds had been quarantined in
the 2 provinces Thursday, and another 2 in Alberta were facing possible
quarantine. Dr. Claude Lavigne said additional farms could be placed under
quarantine and that the focus is determining where the infected cow was
"We're not certain where this animal was born ... there are 2 possible
origins," he said. "We have 2 clear lines of investigation, and we are
investigating both in parallel right now."
The suspected birthplace of the infected cow is a farm near Baldwinton,
Sask., Lavigne said. But inspectors are looking at 2 possible birthplaces.
The herd where the infected cow was found, at a farm near Wanham, Alberta,
is now being slaughtered and tested for BSE. Test results should be
available in a few days and all available laboratories are working to do
the tests on the 150 cows from the herd, Lavigne said.
Officials are also trying to determine what the infected cow and the herds
linked to it were fed. Lavigne, a top official with the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA), said consumers should be confident their food
supply is safe, even though more herds are linked to the infected animal.
"There's no evidence at this time that the safety of Canada's beef has been
compromised in any way. Information strongly suggests the risk to human
health from this one cow is low," Lavigne said. [He should have said zero:
it was slaughtered & did not go into the human food chain. - Mod.JW]
On Tuesday the federal agency and the Alberta government announced a single
cow from a herd near Wanham in northwestern Alberta was infected with BSE,
the first case reported in Canada in a decade. A cow imported from Britain
was found on a farm in Red Deer, Alberta, in 1993, and all cattle
associated with it were destroyed.
The news of the infected cow has huge implications for Canada's $30-billion
beef industry. The Alberta government has been facing tough questions over
how long it took to detect the disease in the emaciated female black Angus
cow pulled 31 Jan 2003 from the killing floor. The cow's head arrived 8 Feb
2003 at an Alberta laboratory and remained in a freezer for 3 months until
it was first tested last week. The confirmation of BSE came Tuesday.
Dr. George Luterbach, the food inspection agency's chief veterinarian for
animal health, said the rest of the Alberta animal's carcass ended up at a
rendering plant where it was processed into chicken or pig feed. He said
there is no evidence to suggest such single-stomach animals can be harmed by
eating feed rendered from an infected animal. [TSE in chickens has been
reported, and that prion was one of the first to be sequenced. Mod.TG]
However, feeding protein from slaughtered cows to cattle does spread the
disease, and the practice has been banned in Canada since 1997. As well,
people who eat the meat of infected animals can develop a deadly human
variant of the disease.
Date: 23 May 2003
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source:The Globe and Mail [edited]
Mad cow quarantine grows
The northern Alberta cow infected with mad cow disease was stumbling and
unable to stand before it was shipped off for slaughter, says the Farmer
who owned the animal. [Other reports indicate the animal had no clinical
signs of BSE, but more likely pneumonia. Mod.TG]
As federal food inspectors expanded the quarantine to a total of 9 cattle
herds in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the cow's owner spoke out for the first
time about being informed his cow was infected. The owner said the cow was
shipped for slaughter when it could no longer get up on its own.
"The cow went down and that is when it was shipped. The cow was still alive,
it just wasn't getting up anymore," the owner said outside his farm near
Wanham, Alberta, about 550 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Such behavior
is a key identifier in BSE. As the disease attacks brain tissue, leaving it
spongy and full of holes, victims become increasingly disoriented and have
difficulty standing. Earlier reports from federal and provincial officials
said the animal showed no visible signs of impairment. [But very sick cows
are too sick to stand -- that´s why they are called "downers." They can be
that sick from all sorts of causes, including pneumomia. - Mod.JW]
The owner purchased the cow, along with 69 other cows and calves, from a
breeder in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, on 23 Aug 2002. The owner's herd was
slaughtered Thursday, and tests were being done on the brain tissue of 150
cows to determine whether the infected animal was indeed an isolated case.
Results are expected back within days.
The 9 cattle herds -- 7 in Alberta and 2 in Saskatchewan -- were isolated
because they once included the infected cow or its calves. More could
follow, said Dr. Claude Lavigne, a top official with the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency. "We have to determine whether this animal has offspring
in other herds, and that is still under investigation," Dr. Lavigne told a
news conference in Edmonton. He could not say how many animals were being
quarantined or whether they would be slaughtered, a move which could be
determined by feed practice.
The cow, a black Angus, was initially thought to be 8 years old, but
officials now believe the cow may be younger. That would mean there are
fewer calves to track. [Given the ear tagging and tracking system that is
mandatory in Canada, it seems strange that they do not know exactly how old
the animal is. If the animal is 6 years old, and knowing that cows generally
calve around 24 months and have one calf approximately every year, then
there should be at least 4 calves, or 6 if the animal is 8 years old.
Authorities have narrowed the search for where the cow was born to 2 farms,
but the trace has been difficult because farmers are not required to keep
records of their cattle [but see above]. The owner of one of the farms
northwest of Saskatoon said he's not convinced the infected cow was born on
his ranch. He said the cow changed hands numerous times, and when CFIA
officials came to his farm they asked about a cow born 6 years ago in 1997,
not 8 years ago in 1995, as was originally stated. "There are too many
uncertainties in my mind. I am not 100 percent sure that it came from here,
given our good management practices." The owner of the farm said he feeds
the cows 95 percent his own grown feed plus a protein supplement which he
understood to be rendered meat-free.He said "My dad's been developing this
herd for over 40 years. I've worked on them
all my life -- since I was 10 years old, I've been out there helping with
the cows." [If the herd has been being developed for 40 years, then there
should be records regarding the genealogy of the animal in question, as well
as feed records.- Mod.TG]
The investigation is also focusing on feed mills and rendering plants that
might have provided contaminated feed up to 6 years ago.
Alberta Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan insisted the situation is
not a disaster, even though a growing ban on Alberta beef from
international markets has left packing houses and auction markets closed.
Indonesia said Thursday it will also refuse Canadian beef, joining the
United States, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, and Japan,
which had an outbreak of the disease in cattle last year.
The disease spreads through an abnormally shaped protein called a prion,
which can only be destroyed by incineration. Many farmers supplement the
protein in their animal feed with parts from other animals, and it's
believed that BSE has spread through that practice.
In Canada and the United States, it has been illegal to feed cow or sheep
protein to other cows and sheep since 1997, and that ban was believed to
have protected North American herds from the disease. Experts say it may be
time to look closely at expanding that ban to all animal protein.
"I don't think anybody screwed up in sending carcasses to renderers, but
now that we are a BSE country this should be re-examined," said Dr. Neil
Cashman, a prion expert at the Centre for Research and Neurodegeneration
at the University of Toronto. "There has to be a societal debate of the
benefits and risks of not using these carcasses."
Dr. Pascal Moreau, a veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,
said it is standard procedure to process diseased animals. He said by the
time a single animal's remains have been made into feed, it has been
heavily diluted with grain and other ingredients.
Dr. Lavigne said Canada has no plans to use the rapid tests for BSE that
have been adopted in some European countries, although it's an alternative
that must be considered.
Date: 23 May 2003
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Canada.com, 22 May 2003 [edited]
The recent outbreak of mad cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy,
BSE) has renewed calls to ban game farming, which has been hard-hit by
chronic wasting disease (CWD) -- a close relative of BSE.
While CWD and BSE are both transmissible spongiform encephalopathies
(TSEs), mad cow disease can be transmitted to humans in the form of variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). There is no established link between CWD
in elk and deer and CJD or any of its variants.
Despite those tenuous links, the International Fund for Animal Welfare
(IFAW) and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) were calling for an
end to game farming in Saskatchewan on Wednesday. The wildlife federation
issued a press release late Tuesday -- the day the BSE story broke --
calling on the provincial government to ban the commercial farming of elk
Pete Schlivert, president of the SWF, said the timing of the press release
was a "coincidence'' and denied the federation was attempting to capitalize
on the BSE scare to pressure the government into banning game farming.
"It had no connection at all with mad cow disease,'' said Schlivert, adding
the release was in response to a seminar held the previous week in
Saskatoon, which also called for the elimination of game farming. But the
federation quoted Dion Curry of the Centre for Studies in Agriculture Law
and Environment (CSALE) at the University of Saskatchewan, who said BSE in
cattle, CWD in elk and deer, scrapie in sheep, and CJD in humans "are all
closely related, prion-based diseases. Governments must deal carefully with
an outbreak of CWD because of its close relationship to these other fatal
CSALE recommended the elimination of game farming because of the potential
threat to both animals and humans. Schlivert said the federation has been
calling for a ban on game farming for more than 10 years because of fears
of CWD passing from game farm animals to wild populations.
IFAW initially opposed game farming as inhumane treatment of farmed
animals, but more recently has based its opposition to concern for wild
animals. "We recognize this (CWD) has a huge threat to wildlife, and a huge
threat to the welfare of farmed animals."
But, unlike the SWF, IFAW intends to use the mad cow scare to raise
awareness of the threat of game farming. "The public is now paying
attention to a TSE," Sinclair said. "We're asking them to pay attention to
another TSE that has already had a huge impact... on an industry that still
hasn't proven itself economically."
Sinclair added the beef cattle industry will survive the BSE scare, but
he's not sure about game farming surviving CWD. While there are no reported
cases of natural transmission of CWD to domestic livestock, studies are
underway to determine whether CWD can cross the species barrier. The CFIA
has slaughtered and tested more than 10 000 elk, deer, bison, and cattle
for CWD and spent close to $100 million on compensation and other costs.
At least one Saskatchewan cattle producer thinks CWD could have a huge
impact on the beef industry. Ken McDade, a Leoville area cattle producer,
says he has been warning government officials, university professors, and
advocates of game farming for over 19 years that CWD could have devastating
effects on the Canadian beef industry.
"We sat in a meeting in Saskatoon to discuss CWD, and there were a lot of
educated people there. I brought this up, that if CWD crossed the species
barrier and if cattle got it, that it could put us out of business. They
looked at me as if I was crazy. And now who's crazy? This is a big problem
now," added McDade, who has a herd of 100 polled Hereford cattle. "Game
farming should never have been allowed in this country."
[Again the question of rendering the animal for ruminant vs. non-ruminant
feeding has come up. If all animal-to-animal feeding is banned, as
mentioned in these articles, then the question is, what should be done with
all the carcasses, and how much incineration and at what cost,
ultimately paid for by the consumer?
In all likelihood more farms will be quarantined. However, there is no
scientific justification for slaughtering herds that were in contact with
the infected animal or its offspring. BSE cannot be passed by casual
There is no scientific link between CWD and BSE. They are however, both
brain-wasting diseases known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.
There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to people consuming
CWD-infected animals. - Mod.TG]