USDA Lifts Mad Cow Quarantine

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently lifted the quarantine on two California cattle farms connected to last month’s mad cow outbreak, ending fears of a major U.S. mad cow epidemic.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, is a neurodegenerative disease in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. Mad cow has a long incubation time, running from 30 months to 8 years, typically strikes cattle at a peak age onset of four to five years, and affects all breeds of cattle. In the United Kingdom, which has experienced the worst outbreak of all Western nations, nearly 4.5 million cattle were killed in an effort to contain the disease.

The quarantine of the two California farms was announced last month after a cow tested positive for the disease. The cow in question was not intended for human consumption. In addition, USDA officials announced that the cow tested positive for an atypical strain of mad cow, further reducing the risk to human health.

The lifting of the quarantine has been cited as evidence of the effectiveness of USDA mad cow safeguards. “Evidence shows that our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working, as are similar actions taken by countries around the world,” said John Clifford, the Agriculture Department’s chief veterinarian.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer