The first two weeks of July have been tough for Canada as she's recorded her sixth and seventh cases of BSE since 2003, and the third and fourth of 2006. The July 4th announcement was of a crossbred beef cow from Manitoba, likely more than 15 years old, purchased by the owner as part of an assembled group of cattle in 1992. And, this week, Canada announced another case, this one in a 50-month-old Alberta animal, which places the animal's birth 4½ years after Canada instituted its mammalian feed ban in 1997.

Of the latter case, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said: "We need a thorough understanding of all the circumstances involved in this case to assure our consumers that Canada's regulatory system is effectively providing the utmost protections to consumers and livestock. I am dispatching a USDA expert to participate in the investigation of this case, particularly as it relates to how this animal may have been exposed to BSE-infected material."

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has located the birth farm, and investigators are tracing other cattle born on the premises within 12 months before or after the birth of the affected animal. CFIA says a full accounting and determination of how the animal was exposed to BSE will be the primary focus of its investigation, and has extended an invitation to U.S. animal health officials to participate.

CFIA stresses that both July cases, as others before them, were detected through the national surveillance program, which targets the highest risk animal populations. And neither of the animals entered the food chain.
-- Joe Roybal