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BSE enhanced surveillance program

Canada implemented a national bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance program in 1992. In 2003, the Government announced that the number of annual BSE samples tested through this program would be increased. The level and design of BSE testing in Canada has always been, and continues to be, in full accordance with the guidelines recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH; founded as Office International des Épizooties (OIE)).

Surveillance is one of many BSE-related actions Canada has implemented to manage BSE. The program tests a sample of animals from the national cattle herd and focuses on higher-risk animals that are most likely to be affected by the disease. The surveillance program's objectives are to determine and monitor the level of BSE present in Canada and to confirm the effectiveness of the suite of measures Canada has implemented to protect human and animal health from the disease.

Sample status and testing results

Last updated: 2022-10-21

No validated live animal test for BSE currently exists. Accordingly, testing for BSE can only be done on the brains of dead animals. Brain samples are screened using rapid tests that accurately and quickly detect a BSE positive sample nearly 100% of the time. Rapid tests can, in rare cases, react when a sample is not infected with BSE. These are known as "inconclusive" results. All samples that yield inconclusive results using a rapid test are sent to the CFIA laboratory in Lethbridge, Alberta for confirmatory testing.

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2022
Month Samples tested Positive
September 1,580 0
August 1,607 0
July 1,327 0
June 1,840 0
May 2,188 0
April 2,568 0
March 2,764 0
February 2,584 0
January 2,311 0
Total 18,759 0

The number of samples tested in recent months is subject to change as new laboratory results are provided.

Previous years

BSE surveillance annual results for 2004 to 2021
Year Samples tested Positive
2021 28,413 1 (a case of H-type atypical BSE)
2020 22,280 0
2019 30,523 0
2018 30,949 0
2017 29,845 0
2016 27,346 0
2015 26,285 1
2014 27,531 0
2013 31,187 0
2012 27,371 0
2011 33,186 1
2010 35,656 1
2009 34,619 1
2008 48,808 4
2007 58,177 3 (1 case of L-type atypical BSE)
2006 55,420 5 (1 case of H-type atypical BSE)
2005 57,768 1
2004 23,550 1
Total 628,914 19 (3 cases of atypical BSE)

2021

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2021
Month Samples tested Positive
December 1,960 1 (Case#20; born in 2013; H-type atypical BSE)
November 2,760 0
October 2,204 0
September 1,867 0
August 1,711 0
July 1,671 0
June 2,110 0
May 2,264 0
April 2,459 0
March 3,365 0
February 2,842 0
January 3,200 0
Total 28,413 1

2020

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2020
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,336 0
November 2,600 0
October 2,533 0
September 1,816 0
August 1,186 0
July 716 0
June 817 0
May 1,037 0
April 1,137 0
March 2,459 0
February 3,156 0
January 2,487 0
Total 22,280 0

2019

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2019
Month Samples tested Positive
December 1,576 0
November 2,640 0
October 3,074 0
September 1,977 0
August 1,737 0
July 1,873 0
June 1,906 0
May 3,047 0
April 3,054 0
March 3,150 0
February 2,947 0
January 3,542 0
Total 30,523 0

2018

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2018
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,477 0
November 3,528 0
October 3,215 0
September 2,020 0
August 2,244 0
July 2,022 0
June 2,100 0
May 2,011 0
April 2,491 0
March 3,013 0
February 2,389 0
January 3,440 0
Total 30,949 0

2017

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2017
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,264 0
November 2,934 0
October 2,293 0
September 1,306 0
August 2,040 0
July 1,639 0
June 1,978 0
May 2,867 0
April 2,931 0
March 3,375 0
February 2,862 0
January 3,356 0
Total 29,845 0

2016

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2016
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,230 0
November 2,850 0
October 2,118 0
September 1,935 0
August 1,584 0
July 1,519 0
June 1,908 0
May 2,287 0
April 2,936 0
March 2,731 0
February 2,372 0
January 2,921 0
Total 27,346 0

2015

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2015
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,252 0
November 2,238 0
October 1,949 0
September 1,776 0
August 1,391 0
July 1,811 0
June 2,047 0
May 1,916 0
April 3,000 0
March 2,768 0
February 2,243 1 (Case #19; born in 2009)
January 2,894 0
Total 26,285 1

2014

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2014
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,300 0
November 2,382 0
October 2,079 0
September 1,684 0
August 1,529 0
July 1,773 0
June 2,081 0
May 2,523 0
April 3,152 0
March 2,654 0
February 2,373 0
January 3,001 0
Total 27,531 0

2013

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2013
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,103 0
November 2,407 0
October 2,497 0
September 1,676 0
August 1,917 0
July 2,034 0
June 1,986 0
May 3,226 0
April 3,960 0
March 3,086 0
February 2,987 0
January 3,308 0
Total 31,187 0

2012

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2012
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,309 0
November 2,782 0
October 2,337 0
September 1,374 0
August 1,889 0
July 1,857 0
June 2,030 0
May 2,625 0
April 2,450 0
March 2,593 0
February 2,696 0
January 2,429 0
Total 27,371 0

2011

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2011
Month Samples tested Positive
December 1655 0
November 2,354 0
October 2,019 0
September 1,984 0
August 2,319 0
July 1,984 0
June 2,632 0
May 3,300 0
April 4,069 0
March 4,199 0
February 3,390 1 (Case #18; born in 2004)
January 3,280 0
Total 33,186 1

2010

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2010
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,899 0
November 2,925 0
October 2,371 0
September 2,388 0
August 2,105 0
July 2,405 0
June 2,905 0
May 3,105 0
April 3,806 0
March 4,015 0
February 3,195 1 (Case #17; born in 2004)
January 3,536 0
Total 35,656 1

2009

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2009
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,826 0
November 2,719 0
October 2,596 0
September 2,170 0
August 2,009 0
July 2,294 0
June 2,729 0
May 2,992 1 (Case #16; born in 2002)
April 3,900 0
March 3,592 0
February 3,285 0
January 3,507 0
Total 34,619 1

2008

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2008
Month Samples tested Positive
December 2,928 0
November 2,669 1 (Case #15; born in 2001)
October 2,500 0
September 2,244 0
August 1,966 1 (Case #14; born in 2002)
July 2,593 0
June 3,908 1 (Case #13; born in 2003)
May 5,726 0
April 6,713 0
March 5,747 0
February 5,587 1 (Case #12; born in 2001)
January 6,227 0
Total 48,808 4

2007

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2007
Month Samples tested Positive
December 4,924 1 (Case #11; born in 1994; L-type atypical BSE)
November 5,158 0
October 3,509 0
September 2,601 0
August 2,946 0
July 2,912 0
June 3,969 0
May 6,344 0
April 7,161 1 (Case#10; born in 2001)
March 7,096 0
February 6,108 0
January 5,449 1 (Case #9; born in 2000)
Total 5,8177 3

2006

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2006
Month Samples tested Positive
December 5,769 0
November 5,563 0
October 3,243 0
September 3,388 0
August 2,408 1 (Case #8; born between 1996 and 1998)
July 2,469 1 (Case #7; born in 2002)
June 4,405 1 (Case #6; born in 1989 or 1990; H-type atypical BSE)
May 5,117 0
April 6,131 1 (Case #5; born in 2000)
March 6,763 0
February 4,877 0
January 5,287 1 (Case #4; born in 2000)
Total 55,420 5

2005

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2005
Month Samples tested Positive
December 5,745 0
November 5,647 0
October 3,260 0
September 3,098 0
August 2,627 0
July 3,288 0
June 5,220 0
May 6,000 0
April 7,026 0
March 5,673 0
February 4,990 0
January 5,194 1 (Case # 3; born in 1998)
Total 57,768 1

2004

BSE surveillance monthly results for 2004
Month Samples tested Positive
December 386 1 (Case #2; born in 1996)
November 550 0
October 797 0
September 877 0
August 486 0
July 1,305 0
June 602 0
May 594 0
April 879 0
March 3,125 0
February 6,861 0
January 7,088 0
Year total 23,550 1

Cases reports are continuously archived. See the Completed investigations web page to find all the investigation reports.

Samples tested

"Samples tested" indicates the number of samples submitted or being submitted to provincial or federal laboratories. Each sample represents 1 animal. Monthly values represent only the number of samples obtained in that month. "Year to date" values represent cumulative samples.

In January 2004, the Government of Canada announced that it would enhance its BSE surveillance testing to at least 8,000 cattle during the first year and to 30,000 per year in subsequent years to calculate the prevalence of BSE in Canadian adult cattle. The level and design of this enhanced program continues to be in full accordance with the guidelines recommended by the WOAH.

BSE surveillance samples come from a variety of sources, including the farm, federal, provincial and territorial abattoirs, rendering and deadstock operations, veterinary practitioners, and university and provincial veterinary diagnostic laboratories.

Positive

Positive samples are those whose positive reaction has been confirmed by immunohistochemistry (IHC), or by immunoblot analyses in low-quality samples or samples with a negative reaction to IHC.

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