Mad cow disease back in France

Mad cow disease back in France

Thursday, March 24, 2016 2:59 pm

A cow infected with BSE

A cow infected with BSE

A new case of mad cow disease, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), has been confirmed in France, the first since 2011.

However, the country’s agriculture ministry calling the occurrence “isolated” and that consumers were not at risk.

The case of BSE was detected in the northeastern region of the Ardennes, near the Belgian border, the ministry said in a statement. It was detected in a five-year-old cow which died prematurely at a cattle farm in Ardennes.

BSE was confirmed on March 23 by the European Union reference laboratory,” the ministry said.

The announcement comes at a difficult time in France’s key farming sector where the beef, pork and milk sectors have seen prices collapse due to falling sales to China and especially a Russian embargo on most Western food imports in retaliation for sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

The crunch in French agriculture has been compounded by a price war with wholesalers and sparked months of angry protests.

BSE is a brain-destroying disease among cattle that sparked a scare in the 1990s when it was found it could also be transmitted to humans who ate beef infected with the agent, a rogue protein called a prion.

The epidemic — of which Britain was the epicentre — was traced to the use of infected carcasses recycled for animal feed, prompting dozens of countries to strengthen veterinary controls.

The number of cases has plummeted, although isolated occurrences persist, according to a tally by the OIE.

In 2015, there were single cases in Canada, Ireland, Norway and Slovenia, as well as two cases in Britain, the OIE said on its website Thursday.

*Rewritten from agency reports

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