Ireland reports atypical case of mad cow disease

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

The BSE case will not impact Ireland's beef trade, according to the government
The BSE case will not impact Ireland's beef trade, according to the government

Related tags Bovine spongiform encephalopathy Ireland Beef Livestock

The Republic of Ireland has reported a case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – colloquially known as mad cow disease – in an 18-year-old cow.

Ireland’s Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) received a preliminary positive result, since backed up by laboratory tests on 14 January 2017.

The animal, located in Galway in the west of Ireland, has not entered the food chain and will be incinerated, the DAFM said. The case does not pose a public health risk either.

The animal was tested at a knackery as part of Ireland’s ongoing sampling of animals over 48 months old that have died on farm. Identification of the atypical BSE​ case will not have an impact on Ireland’s BSE ‘controlled risk’ status, granted by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), DAFM confirmed.

Atypical BSE – at a glance

First recognised in the early noughties in Europe following large-scale testing of BSE​, 101 cases of atypical BSE have been registered in the European Union between 2003 and 2015. In contrast, nearly 3,000 classical BSE cases were reported in the EU during the same period. Ireland has reported three cases of atypical BSE. It has also been identified in Brazil and the US.

The OIE reported that the animal was an Aberdeen Angus female, born on 5 March 1998. OIE claimed the farmer said the animal appeared stiff for two weeks prior to its death. Twice in January, the cow appeared inactive before the decision was made to euthanise the animal.

There are currently two types of BSE: classical BSE and atypical BSE. It is believed that the latter occurs spontaneously.

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