A case of BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease, has been found on a farm in Somerset.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency said Friday that the animal infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy has died and has been removed from the site.
It is not clear how the cow caught the disease and until the investigation is complete, the movement of animals has been banned in the vicinity of the farm as a precautionary measure.
The agency said there was no risk of mad cow disease entering the food supply system as a result of the incident.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemis said the detection of the BSE case was evidence that the government’s surveillance program to contain the disease was working.
“A single case of classical BSE has been confirmed on a farm in Somerset. The animal died on the farm and was tested as part of our TSE surveillance control.
“Movement on the farm has been banned. This is the standard procedure until we have a clear understanding of the origin of the disease.
“We recognize that this will be a painful time for the farmer and we stand ready to offer advice during this difficult period.
“The UK’s overall risk status for BSE is ‘controlled’ and poses no risk to food security or public health.”
BSE is a degenerative brain condition in cattle that causes weight loss, abnormal behavior, paralysis, and eventually death.
There was a major outbreak of the disease in British cattle in the 1980s and 1990s, due to the practice of feeding meat and bone meal obtained from other cows to herds.
From the mid-1990s, a small number of people began to develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) as a result of consuming BSE-infected beef. In total, 177 people will die during the outbreak.
As a result, many countries around the world have banned the sale of British beef, with some of those restrictions in place as recently as 2019.
However, a Food Standards Agency spokesperson said the BSE had stringent systems in place to prevent cattle from entering the food chain and the new case did not put any consumer at risk.
“Strict controls are in place to protect consumers from BSE exposure, including control of animal feed and removal of cattle parts that are most likely to contain BSE infection,” the spokesperson said.
“Consumers can be assured that these important safety measures are in place and that the Food Standards Agency’s official veterinarian and meat hygiene inspectors at all slaughterhouses in England will continue to ensure that the safety of consumers remains a top priority.”
There have been five confirmed cases of BSE in the UK since 2014, but all were in animals that were not destined to be sold as beef for human consumption.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency has begun an investigation into Somerset’s herd to determine where the infected cow was found, the farm itself and where the disease may have originated, and has also notified the World Organization for Animal Health.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /