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New Canadian mad cow case suspected

Written by: Staff
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Apr 13 (Reuters) Canada has discovered a suspected new case of mad cow disease in an animal that was about six years old, but the animal did not enter the human food chain, the government said today.

If the pure-bred Holstein dairy cow in British Columbia is confirmed to have been suffering from the disease it would be the fifth native-born case of the brain-wasting bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the ''entire carcass has been placed under control'', and the case was identified under a national surveillance program that targets animals most at risk of having BSE.

''No part of this animal has entered the food chain. That is an absolute,'' said Cornelius Kiley, a CFIA veterinarian, adding that no quarantine was required for other animals on the farm.

Results of final testing on the cow were expected to be released on Sunday.

Officials said the infected cow was born in April 2000, after the Canadian government prohibited cattle from eating feed containing ruminant protein. The ban was put in place in 1997.

Kiley said it is believed the cow ate contaminated feed at an early stage of its life, and officials were investigating its food sources.

He said the farm, which had owned the cow for one year, has detailed records on the animal's history from birth.

Canada's first case of BSE was detected in 2003, prompting the United States to impose a crippling ban on imports of live young Canadian cattle. The ban was lifted in July 2005.

A Canada has tested about 100,000 cows considered at risk of having BSE since 2003. Officials have consistently said they expect to find a handful of animals with the disease, most likely caused by infected feed.

The cow lived in British Columbia's Fraser Valley region, which has a dairy industry primarily serving the Vancouver-area market.

The United States imposed a ban on Canadian cattle after the first domestic case was discovered in May 2003, but lifted that ban in July last year for cattle under 30 months of age. USofficials are still considering whether to lift the ban for older cattle.

''We will not draw conclusions before Canada has confirmatory test results. If it is confirmed to be positive, we will dispatch one of our experts to assist with the epidemiological investigation.

We certainly appreciate their transparency,'' Agriculture Department spokesman Ed Loyd said in a statement.

The head of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association played down the discovery and said he suspects the animal's feed came from the neighboring province of Alberta since British Columbia does not produce much animal feed.

''It's not a surprise to anybody. The only concern I would have is if people blow it out of proportion,'' said Hugh Lynch-Staunton.

News of the potential discovery pushed cattle futures prices lower on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, but the impact was muted.

''As long as it's a dairy cow, and as long as they caught it. I don't think its a big deal,'' said Jim Clarkson, a livestock analyst with A&A Trading Inc.

REUTERS DKS PM2343

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