Earlier this year, China reopened access to US beef imports for the first time since that notorious episode. These protocols were established due to fear over previous cases, and consist of screening cows that show physical symptoms of the disease (like changed temperature and loss of coordination) and sending these cows for further tests instead of allowing them to be slaughtered.
Atypical BSE generally is found in older cattle - usually 8 years or older.
The form of BSE found in the Alabama cow is known as "atypical BSE", and is less of a concern than what is known as "classical BSE", which cattle can contract by eating contaminated feed. Because unlike classic BSE, which was the case with the Cow that Stole Christmas back in 2003, atypical BSE is believed to occur spontaneously. It's important to note that this type is very different than the classical type of BSE, which occurred mainly in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.
At one point, the discovery of a mad cow in the United States triggered a USA beef import ban in many countries.
The single animal was found positive for atypical (L-type) BSE, according to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). "The response to this case by USDA officials and our department's professionals led by State Veterinarian Dr".
U.S. Cattlemen's Association President Kenny Graner said, "It must be reiterated that atypical BSE, as determined by the World Organization for Animal Health, does not affect the United States" current status as "negligible risk for BSE.' This categorization is a direct result of the fact that an atypical case occurs spontaneously in all cattle populations at a very low rate". In 2009, the USDA implemented the enhanced surveillance testing programs to protect animal and human health. The U.S. beef industry and our markets both here and overseas can take great comfort in that.
The discovery of BSE in Alabama comes a little more than a month after American beef producers began sending beef to China after a 14-year hiatus. The incidence of BSE in the United States is extremely low, and will remain so. BSE is not contagious and the cow announced today posed no risk to human health.
What's more, just like the previous atypical cases that were detected in Alabama, Texas and California, it doesn't affect our global trading status. Brazil belatedly reported a case in 2014, and another in late 2012.