Germany picks up second rare atypical BSE case

Jon Condon, 26/02/2014


German health authorities have picked up a second rare atypical case of BSE in an aged cow, as part of routine screening work.

The positive test result follows a similar detection made only a month earlier, raising speculation that a cluster of atypical BSE cases may be emerging in Germany. The country’s previous case of atypical BSE was identified back in 2009.

In the most recent case, Germany’s Directorate of Animal Health & Animal Welfare has confirmed a positive test outcome in an 11-year old cow from the Brandenberg region, picked up as part of routine testing during slaughter.

The cow was slaughtered on January 31, just a fortnight after the previous atypical BSE case was reported by authorities. The cow in question had no clinical signs of the disease, and did not enter the human food chain, and at no time presented any risk to human health. Testing showed the infection was the very rare H-type form of BSE not associated with feeding.

The subsequent investigation identified eight offspring of the cow, three of which had already been slaughtered, one which died of natural causes and four of which had been traded to another EU member state.

No mention was made in the report about whether the animal came from the same, or a nearby location as the January detection.

The previous January positive for BSE was found in a ten-year-old cow, which an epidemiological investigation suggested had contracted the L-type strain of atypical BSE. Seven cohorts were destroyed as part of that examination, all found to be negative for the disease.

Germany is unlikely to see its OIE BSE status altered as a result of the recent events, because the OIE does not recognise atypical forms of BSE as a distinct entity for the purpose of its international standards. Atypical BSE is sometimes associated with spontaneous mutation of prions, presenting as BSE in an animal without any source of infection, such as contaminated feed.

The announcement was not expected to impact on consumption patterns for beef in Germany or across the broader EU region, but was proof-positive that disease screening programs were working effectively, government sources said.

Localised cattle movement control measures have been applied inside the country, in response to the detections.




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