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USDA Expresses Confidence in Canadian Actions as Officials Quarantine Albert Farm

WASHINGTON, DC - While the Canadian government has quarantined a farm in Alberta in its search for cattle connected to the latest case of mad cow disease, the USDA said it remains confident that Canada has the proper health measures in place to protect humans from contamination.

"USDA remains confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada
has in place, including the removal of specified risk material (SRMs) from the human food chain, a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, a national surveillance program and import restrictions, combined with existing U.S. domestic safeguards and the additional safeguards announced as part of USDA's BSE minimal-risk rule announced Dec. 29 provide the utmost protections to U.S. consumers and livestock," Ron DeHaven, administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said in a statement today.

In Canada, veterinary officials were quoted by reporters as saying they were using records to find a calf born to the latest afflicted cow, as well as other old cattle that may have eaten the same contaminated feed years ago.

"The owner has provided inspectors with very detailed records of all animals raised on the premise and we're hoping that these records will increase the speed with which our investigation can proceed," said Gary Little, a senior veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The cow had lived on three farms during its life, but only its birth farm was quarantined. It has less than 200 animals. The carcass of the mad cow will be kept for research.

Canadian officials had not decided whether to kill and test any of the other livestock, but may have more information in 24 to 36 hours, they said. Canada's second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, was confirmed late Sunday, a reported disappointment to farmers who have lost an estimated C$5 billion (US$4.1 billion) because of trade bans by the United States and other export markets.

The USDA also said that considering that Canada has roughly 5.5 million cattle over 24 months of age, according to guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health, it "could detect up to 11 cases of BSE in this population and still be considered a minimal-risk country, as long as their risk mitigation measures and other preventative measures were effective."

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