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US probe seeks second calf from Alabama mad cow

Posted by Tara Burner 0 comments



WASHINGTON – Officials investigating the new U.S. case of mad cow
disease said on Friday they had a “strong lead” on a second calf from
the crossbred beef cow and hoped to find the farm where the cow was
born a decade ago.

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced the new case, in a cow in
Alabama and the third U.S. case overall, on Monday. A reexamination
of the carcass has confirmed the cow was at least 10 years old.

A six-week-old calf, identified as offspring of the infected cow, has
been shipped to a USDA lab in Iowa. A USDA spokesman also said the
cow gave birth to a black-coated bull calf in early 2005 and
investigators are in the process of tracing the animal.

USDA wants the calves for observation. They are too young to test for
the brain-wasting disease, which scientists believe is spread through
contaminated feed.

“We are going to do everything we can,” said Alabama Agriculture
Commissioner Ron Sparks during a news conference in Montgomery, to
trace the infected cow back to its herd of origin and to find
offspring. “We have to be honest, that might not be possible.”

Officials declined to identify the owner, the general location of the
farm or the name of the auction barn, also in Alabama, where the
farmer bought the cow a year or so ago.

Asked how far the cow’s history has been traced, Sparks said
investigators have interviewed the owner, the auction barn and
“individuals that possibly sold this animal.” Because the cow was
bought at auction, the seller might not be immediately known.

Because of the age of the cow, officials said it probably was
infected before a 1997 ban on using cattle parts in cattle feed.
Investigators try to find the farm of origin to see if other cattle
of similar ages might be infected.

“This cow was infected a long time ago,” said Sparks.

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