Published Date: 2003-05-27 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH> BSE, bovine - Canada (Alberta) (06)
Archive Number: 20030527.1300
BSE, BOVINE - CANADA (ALBERTA) (06)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail, a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 26 May 2003
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: The Globe and Mail [edited]
Investigators investigating the origins of an Alberta cow diagnosed with
BSE have narrowed their search to 2 sires that could have produced the
infected cow. The next step, officials from the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency (CFIA) said, is to use genetic profiling and comparisons of DNA
samples to try and determine where the cow was born, fed, and possibly
infected with the disease.
"We're going to use every possible avenue that is scientifically available
to us," Brian Evans, the CFIA's chief veterinarian, told a press conference
in Ottawa. "If we can discover what this cow's path was in life, we can
concentrate the efforts of our inquiry on what the animals were fed."
About 180 head of cattle from 4 quarantined farms -- 3 in Alberta and 1 in
Saskatchewan -- were slaughtered over the weekend. Their carcasses are now
being tested for signs of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or
Although 17 farms have been quarantined in total, Dr. Evans said the
investigation was focusing on the 3 Alberta farms because they all included
offspring of the diseased cow.
The Saskatchewan farm, which may be the birthplace of the animal, was
completely depopulated. A total of about 375 head of cattle have now been
slaughtered for testing.
Dr. Evans declined to provide specifics on how many cattle had been taken
from each Alberta farm, saying "we're trying not to point at any one farm
at this time." Before the cattle were slaughtered, they were evaluated for
compensation purposes, Dr. Evans added. The test results are expected to
return in the next few days.
When pressed on the issue of compensation for farmers who had either lost
their cattle or been hurt financially by the mad-cow scare, which prompted
the United States and other countries to close their borders to Canadian
beef, Alberta premier Ralph Klein said that his cabinet was looking into
As the focus shifts to the economic impact of the disease, officials from
the CFIA continued to assure Canadians that the investigation was narrowing
and that it still appears only one cow has been infected by the disease.
On Sunday, results came back negative for all 192 cattle taken from the
original Wanham, Alberta farm where the disease was discovered.
Those results rule out the possibility that unhealthy practices at that
ranch in northern Alberta caused the infection, Dr. Evans said Sunday. It
also bolsters the agency's repeated assurances that Canadian meat remains
safe, he added, and that the regulatory system has worked properly.
The negative tests are also baffling, said Gerald Ollis, Alberta's chief
veterinarian. "It creates frustration and concern about where it [the
disease] came from," Mr. Ollis said, noting that officials have not ruled
out the possibility that the cow contracted it spontaneously. "But it does
tell us that BSE is not endemic to Alberta."[Other countries have tried the
"spontaneous" route, unsuccessfully. - Mod.TG]
If officials are unable to locate the source of the infection, Dr. Evans
said, Canada would need to look at revamping its testing system. "If,
after all the testing, we are left with a single animal on a single farm,
then we have to access whether there's a low-level risk that exists in
the population." If that happens, he said, "we'll be revisiting our
policy, and all these [testing]factors will be revisited."
Officials have used the Canadian tracking process to determine where the
diseased cow spent its time and where feed containing the remains of the
cow was shipped. They discovered the feed went to 3 British Columbia farms,
which were placed under quarantine on Friday, and to a dog food producer in
Carson City, Nevada, which issued a recall Monday for 2 products:
Maintenance Diet and Beef with Barley.
Date: 26 May 2003
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: Canada.com [edited]
Federal investigators have learned that contaminated chicken feed
containing remains of an Alberta cow diagnosed with BSE may have been fed
to cows on 3 British Columbia (B.C.) hobby farms.
The 3 farms, 1 in Prince George and 2 in the Fraser Valley, are under
quarantine, said Cornelius Kiley, a veterinarian with the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency. It is not yet known whether the cows will be destroyed.
Kiley said investigators tracking sales of the tainted feed last week grew
concerned about feeding practices on the 3 farms. "We do have indications
that it could have been fed improperly to the ruminants when it should not
have occurred," he said. Ruminants are animals that chew their cud and
include cows, goats, sheep, elk, and deer.
In 1997, Canada outlawed feeding cows the remains of cattle or other
ruminants. The law is designed to protect Canadian cattle from bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which scientists believe spreads through
The maximum penalty for breaking the feed-ban law is a $200 000 [USD 145
700] fine and 2 years in jail, said Sergio Tolusso, CFIA's food program
co-ordinator. As far as Tolusso knows, no charges have been laid since the
law was enacted.
The B.C. quarantine shows that despite careful regulation of livestock feed
production in Canada, there is still ample room for human error.
CFIA officials spent all week assuring the public the diseased cow did not
enter the human food chain. It did, however, infiltrate the animal food chain.
The diseased cow was ill when it appeared for slaughter and inspectors
deemed it unfit for human consumption and kept its head for
testing. However, the tests were backlogged by 3 months and the carcass
was allowed to proceed to an Edmonton rendering plant. There it was broken
down to make a protein supplement used in chicken feed, Kiley said. Canada
permits rendered cow remains to be fed to chicken and pigs, animals not
susceptible to BSE. The tainted protein supplement travelled from Edmonton
to feed mills in B.C., where it was properly added to chicken feed, Kiley said.
Animal health regulations require that vendors record every sale, he
said. "Based on those records, we are able to contact all of the people
who purchased this particular batch of poultry feed." Labels warn
individual farmers not to feed poultry food to cows, said Jake Davidson,
feed department manager with Otter Co-op in Aldergrove.
"If everybody follows the rules, including the guy who buys the feed, the
Canadian food chain is safe," he said.
To cut the risk of contamination, some feed-mill operators have stopped
using ruminant-based protein supplements in feed altogether.
Jake Friesen, owner of Clearbrook Grain and Milling, took the step because,
as a smaller operator with only one plant, he found it difficult to
completely separate cattle and chicken feed. "Your bins are never totally
cleaned out," he said.
Federal inspectors are diligent about testing, Friesen said, and will shut
down a feed mill for the slightest trace of contamination.
A British expert on mad cow disease says Canada should ban cattle remains
from being processed into animal feed of any kind.
Malcolm Ferguson-Smith, a genetics professor from Cambridge University,
also said all feed made from the carcass of the diseased Alberta animal
should be immediately recalled. "That was not done in the United Kingdom
in the initial stage of the epidemic, and everybody regrets the fact that
no attempt was made to call back the feeds that had already been sold to
farmers that could have been contaminated," he said.
[Chicken feed may be made with rendered parts of ruminants. Since there is
a ruminant to mammal ban, that is parts of rendered ruminants may not be
fed to mammals, then the rendered animals can be fed to chickens. Hence if
the chicken feed is then fed back to ruminants, it violates the safeguard
of a ruminant to ruminant ban or a ruminant to mammal ban. - Mod.TG]