As of June, USDA has tested 381,000 animals in its enhanced BSE surveillance program. Among them were three animals that tested “inconclusive” last November but under additional testing turned up negative.

In early June, however, USDA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which has been working with USDA in reviewing its BSE-related activities, recommended all three of the inconclusive samples be subjected to a second internationally recognized confirmatory test — the Western blot test. On June 10, USDA announced the blot test results found one of the three samples to be “reactive.”

That sample was subsequently sent to the Office of International Epizootics (OIE)-recognized laboratory for BSE in Weybridge, England, for additional testing. As of press time, those results had not yet been returned.

In making the June 10 announcement, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said, “The first thing I want to mention again is that there is no risk to human health here. The animal did not get in the food or the feed chain. The firewalls USDA put in place some time ago once again have shown they do work.”