Mon­i­tor­ing of BSE risk in UK

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Stephen Cado­gan

Sev­en­teen years af­ter the EU ban on an­i­mal pro­teins in live­stock feed was en­forced in 2001, the con­fir­ma­tion of an iso­lated case of clas­si­cal BSE in Aberdeen­shire, Scot­land, showed the con­tin­u­ing pres­ence on farms of the ab­nor­mal Bse-caus­ing prion pro­teins which in­fect the an­i­mals’ brains, spinal cords and bod­ily tis­sues.

The five-year-old Scot­tish cow died on the farm, and was not pre­sented for slaugh­ter, and did not en­ter the food chain.

The pres­ence of BSE was de­tected in rou­tine of­fi­cial surveil­lance of fallen cat­tle. It was the first case in Scot­land since 2008, and BSE was last found in the UK in 2015, in Wales. At the dis­ease’s peak in the early 1990s, it in­fected more than 30,000 cows a year but, un­til this month, there had been only five cases in the UK since 2012.

Ire­land had a case in 2017, but that was atyp­i­cal BSE, which is be­lieved to oc­cur spon­ta­neously in all cat­tle pop­u­la­tions.

The lat­est case in Scot­land is clas­si­cal BSE due to in­gest­ing prion-con­tam­i­nated feed. Ire­land had a clas­si­cal BSE case in Co Louth in 2015. The UK’S An­i­mal and Plant Health Agency stopped an­i­mals go­ing in or out of the farm, as a pre­cau­tion un­til it fig­ures out how the cow got the dis­ease. Scot­land will be stripped of its pre­vi­ous mad cow dis­ease “neg­li­gi­ble” risk sta­tus, and is mov­ing to “con­trolled risk”, which will re­strict where Scot­tish beef can be ex­ported. The rest of Great Bri­tain, and Ire­land, also have “con­trolled risk” sta­tus. How­ever, North­ern Ire­land has neg­li­gi­ble risk sta­tus. More than 60 cases of clas­si­cal BSE (which is also the type trans­mis­si­ble to hu­mans) have been re­ported in cat­tle born since the EU’S 2001 ban on an­i­mal pro­teins in live­stock feed. Most of these cases were in the UK and Ire­land. Clas­si­cal BSE first emerged in the mid-1980s in the UK as a re­sult of feed­ing cows beef of­fal.

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