USDA Quarantines Two Farms Over Mad Cow Fears

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently quarantined an additional farm that may be linked to last month’s discovery of mad cow disease in California.

Mad cow disease, the colloquial name for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is a degenerative brain disease in cows, which, over time, attacks the brain causing spongy lesions, brain damage, and death. Consumption of meat or animal products from cows suffering from the illness has been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disorder that attacks brain tissue, causing mood swings, psychiatric and behavioral changes, motor function impairment, and, eventually, death.

The USDA’s news that a second farm is being quarantined is sure to increase worry on the part of consumers. The second farm was closely linked to the farm where the illness first presented, leading USDA investigators to quarantine it until a deeper probe can be concluded. In addition, the USDA is looking into the calf ranch where the sick cow was raised.

The news that a cow on a California farm was infected, the first case in more than half a decade, shocked consumers and has threatened U.S. beef exports. Already, international consumers are considering beef bans. South Korea, for example, is sending a fact-finding team to Washington to review USDA documents about the recent discovery.

Despite the investigations, the USDA is assuring consumers that their meat is safe. The infected cow was not intended for human consumption and posed no human health threat. In addition, USDA officials emphasized that national and international safeguards exist to limit the spread of mad cow beef (safeguards which have reduced reported cases of mad cow from over 37,000 in 1992 to only 29 last year).

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer