Brazil investigating another potential case of atypical BSE

Jon Condon, 06/05/2014

Brazil investigating another potential case of atypical BSE


Brazil is investigating another potential case of atypical BSE, the nation’s agriculture ministry confirmed on Thursday, just over a year after several countries banned Brazilian beef imports when a similar case was confirmed.

Brazil last experienced a case of atypical BSE in late 2012.

A routine inspection at an abattoir in Mato Grosso state found an animal that veterinarians suspect of having a neurological problems, a ministry spokesman confirmed. Laboratory tests are under way but atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), has not yet been confirmed.

Unlike the previous BSE episode which was sourced to a minor beef producing region, the latest episode is in Mato Grosso, one of Brazil’s major beef producing states.

In late 2012, tests showed that a cow that died two years earlier in Parana state had developed the protein that causes BSE, though the animal never developed the disease symptoms and died of natural causes.

Brazil was widely condemned at the time for the lengthy delays in disclosing the episode to the world animal health authority, the OIE.

The case was considered ‘atypical’ as the animal contracted the protein spontaneously, rather than through the feed supply. Classical cases of BSE are caused when cattle are fed brain or spinal chord tissue of other ruminants, which is now forbidden in nearly all beef producing countries worldwide, including Brazil.

After it confirmed the atypical Parana case in tests carried out in England in 2012, the OIE maintained Brazil’s status as a country with an insignificant risk of BSE. Even so, several countries including South Korea, China and Egypt banned some or all beef imports from Brazil, one of the world’s largest beef exporters.

Humans can develop what is known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from consuming beef from animals with BSE. The disease was first discovered in Britain in 1986, but strict controls have tempered its spread.


The incident report filed by Brazil’s ministry of agriculture says the following:

As part of the Brazilian surveillance system for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the prion marker was identified on 14 April 2014 in a 12-year-old female bovine sent for emergency slaughter because she was found fallen at her arrival at the slaughterhouse following some problems during transport. The animal was born and raised in the same full-cycle beef farm on extensive grazing. Meat and other products from this animal did not enter the food chain and there was no risk for human population.

Tracing back animal movements since 2000, it was established that some animals from the birth cohort of this animal had been moved to 10 other properties in 3 municipalities in the state of Mato Grosso. During the epidemiological investigation, 49 animals from the cohort, which did not show clinical signs of the disease, were destroyed. Samples of nervous tissue were taken from the cohort animals and tested for BSE at the National Laboratory and all were negative on 1 May 2014.

All control measures according to the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code have already been applied in order to close the outbreak and only the results of the typing tests carried out at the Reference Laboratory at Weybridge (United Kingdom) are pending.



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