Latest mad cow case traced to Texas herd
FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES
WASHINGTON -- The second confirmed case of mad cow disease in the United States has been traced to a cow born in Texas 12 years ago and slaughtered in November at a pet-food plant, Department of Agriculture officials said Wednesday.
The announcement comes five days after the agency disclosed that the animal -- a beef cow used for breeding -- had tested positive for the brain-wasting disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It was the first discovery of the disease in a U.S.-bred animal. The other U.S. case, confirmed in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow imported from Canada.
No part of the animal ever entered the food chain for humans or pets, USDA officials have stressed.
The department's chief veterinarian, Dr. John Clifford, said the new case, confirmed Friday, was identified and linked to the herd in Texas through DNA testing. He said the herd had been quarantined.
"The safety of our food supply is not in question," Clifford said in a conference call with reporters. He said the government would not identify the cow's owner or the town it came from.
He said that given the cow's age, officials think it probably was infected before the 1997 ban on the use of cattle parts in cattle feed.
Clifford said Texas animal health officials have found two animals that are related to the infected cow. Officials also are trying to identify herd mates born within one year of the infected cow's birth as well as any offspring born within the past two years, he said.
Humans who eat infected beef products can contract a fatal illness, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
No Dexters anywhere have ever tested positive for BSE.