Discovery of mad cow disease case in Canada shows surveillance working – UN
Calling it “good news” and urging all countries to continue their checks, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow in Canada proved that active surveillance and diagnosis programmes are working.
“The identification of a single case of BSE is not a cause for panic,” Andrew Speedy of the FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division said of BSE, also known as mad cow disease, which is deadly for humans when transmitted through eating contaminated meat.
“It is good news that odd single cases of BSE are being picked up by inspection. There has been no sign of an escalation of numbers in any of the countries that have identified isolated cases. Rather, it demonstrates that active surveillance is picking up the one-in-a-million case,” Mr. Speedy added.
“All countries should continue to check for the disease and apply precautionary measures, even where BSE has never been found.”
Only a few cases had been found in new countries, and the trend in European countries which were most affected is certainly downwards as a result of government programmes to find and destroy the disease, Mr. Speedy said.
But, he added, “Even countries which have not found any cases of BSE should now consider adopting more stringent measures.”
Keeping the dangerous material out of the food chain and not amplifying the risk through feeding it back to animals are the principle factors to ensure against the survival of BSE in a country. “Stricter rules and attention to detail are called for to be absolutely sure that meat is safe,” Mr. Speedy stressed.