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Laboratory detection of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy

On December 17, 2021, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH; founded as Office International des Épizooties (OIE)) of a case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a 8 and a half year old beef cow on a farm in Alberta.

The detection and reporting of an atypical BSE case will not affect the WOAH negligible risk status of Canada and market access for Canadian animals and beef products should be unaffected.

The Government of Canada will work with the cattle and beef industries to maintain the confidence of international trading partners to maintain market access for Canadian animals and products.

Cases of atypical BSE are generally observed in animals aged 8 years or older. Atypical BSE has worldwide distribution, even in countries where no classical BSE has been reported. These two factors support the assumption that this extremely rare disease develops spontaneously. Atypical strains occurs naturally and sporadically in all cattle populations at a very low rate and which have only been identified in older cattle.

The beef cow was euthanized on the farm and did not enter the food or animal feed chain. Canada continues to maintain its safeguards in order to prevent the introduction of certain cattle tissues capable of transmitting BSE, known as specified risk material (SRM). The detection of atypical BSE in Canada underscores the ongoing effectiveness of Canada's robust targeted BSE surveillance program.

As this case has been confirmed as an atypical case, no further actions on the index farm are required. There is no quarantine or other restrictions in place for the farm.

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