Cattle producers shouldn t let their guard down when it comes to testing for BSE just because the number of confirmed cases has dropped to less than a trickle, says a senior veterinarian at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Bachir Djillali, staff veterinarian for disease control, says it s still possible that a few more cases of the brain-wasting disease will be found. Fourteen cases have been confirmed since it was discovered in an Alberta cow in 2003.
Federal officials said from the start that the discovery of sporadic cases of the disease were likely for many years until it was erased from the Canadian herd.
The last confirmed case this year was in February with one each found in 2010 and 2009.
We re counting on producers to submit tissue samples of any bovine that is found dead, disabled, diseased or down. We have to continue targeting these high-risk cases, he said in an interview.
Canada implemented an enhanced ban on using rendered protein from cattle in cattle feed in 2007. It s not unexpected that we would find a few more cases (from cattle born before the ban) because we are looking so closely for them, Djillali said.
CFIA tested more than 35,000 animals in 2010 and hopes to get more than 30,000 samples this year, he says. In some provinces, the agency has to count on farmers submitting samples while in others, deadstock operators play a major role in the collection of samples.
CFIA recently issued a statement crediting the surveillance program with demonstrating the low and declining level of the disease in Canada, thereby supporting domestic and international confidence in Canadian beef.
A strong surveillance program means a strong industry. That s why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding cattle producers across the country to continue to present eligible animals for testing under the program.
CFIA offers cattle producers $75 for eligible samples and pays veterinarians up to $100 for assistance in sample gathering.