USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service yesterday released the following update on the BSE detection announced earlier this week:

On April 24, USDA confirmed the nation’s 4th case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in an animal that was sampled for the disease at a rendering facility in central California. This animal was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States. As the epidemiological investigation has progressed, USDA has continued to communicate findings in a timely and transparent manner.

As a result of USDA’s ongoing epidemiological investigation, more information about the history and age of the animal is now available.

The animal in question was 10 years and 7 months old and came from a dairy farm in Tulare County, Calif. The animal was humanely euthanized after it developed lameness and became recumbent. The animal’s carcass will be destroyed.

It is important to reiterate that this animal was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, did not enter food supply channels, and at no time presented any risk to human health.

USDA is continuing its epidemiological investigation and will provide additional information as it is available.

The positive animal was tested as part of targeted BSE surveillance at rendering facilities. Samples were sent to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for testing and forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) on April 20th for confirmatory testing. APHIS announced the confirmed positive finding April 24th.

The United States has a longstanding system of three interlocking safeguards against BSE that protects public and animal health in the United States, the most important of which is the removal of specified risk materials — or the parts of an animal that would contain BSE should an animal have the disease — from all animals presented for slaughter in the United States. The second safeguard is a strong feed ban that protects cattle from the disease. The third safeguard—which led to this detection— is our ongoing BSE surveillance program that allows USDA to detect the disease if it exists at very low levels in the U.S. cattle population and provides assurances to consumers and our international trading partners that the interlocking system of safeguards in place to prevent BSE are working.