Germany Finds Mad Cow Disease in Bovine in First Case Since 2009

Jan 18, 2014 10:00 am ET

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Germany found a case of mad cow disease in a slaughtered bovine, the country’s first case since 2009, according to an alert to the World Organisation for Animal Health, or OIE.

The 10-year old cow, which did not show any clinical signs of the disease, was destroyed, Germany’s Food & Agriculture Ministry wrote in a notification to the Paris-based OIE dated yesterday. The animal didn’t enter the human food chain, according to the notice.

Mad cow disease, officially called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, can cause a human form known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The rare and fatal neurological condition is linked to the consumption of meat from sick cattle.

“The identified animal did not enter food supply channels, and so at no time did it present any risk to human health,” according to the OIE notification.

BSE was confirmed in testing on Jan. 9, according to the notification. The slaughtered cow carried a “very rare” atypical form of the bovine disease, known as L-type, that is not generally associated with the animal consuming infected feed, the OIE wrote.

An epidemiological investigation identified seven offspring of the infected cow, five of which were already slaughtered and two of which were still on the farm of origin. The two remaining cattle were killed and destroyed, based on the notice.

Tracing Cattle

Tracing of cattle born on the affected farm until one year before the birth of the infected cow identified a further five animals, which were killed and destroyed, the OIE wrote.

From October 1996 to March 2011, 175 human cases of the illness were reported in the U.K., and about 50 cases in 11 other countries including the U.S., according to the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Symptoms of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease include blurred vision, disorientation, hallucinations, lack of coordination and speech impairment. The incurable condition is progressive, and can be fatal within months. The incubation period is unknown, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

--Editors: Claudia Carpenter, Rudy Ruitenberg