U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Tuesday that the United States would not accept any “ruminant products” from Canada until further notice. Ruminant animals are a suborder of mammals that have a stomach divided into four compartments, such as sheep, goats, deer and cattle.
The infected cow came from a farm in the western province of Alberta. Inspectors diagnosed mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, during a routine test after slaughter, Canadian Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief told reporters.
Mad cow is a chronic degenerative disease that attacks the central nervous system of cattle, destroying brain tissue and eventually causing dementia and death. There is no known cure.
During the late 1990s, at least 94 Europeans died from a human variant of the disease, called Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, probably contracted from eating infected meat products.
Vanclief quickly added that the animal “did not go into the food chain,” but was isolated, along with the farm and herd that it came from.
“The affected herd will be depopulated once the necessary samples have been obtained… Any additional herds that are found to be at risk as a result of the investigation will also be depopulated,” he said.
Vanclief said the investigation will focus on how the cow contracted the disease, where it came from and how it was processed.