USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Wednesday that the second of two BSE confirmatory tests -- the immunohistochemistry (IHC) test -- conducted on an Alabama cow has returned a positive result. Earlier this week, a Western blot test had confirmed the Alabama cow as positive for BSE. Under APHIS protocols, if either the IHC or the Western blot returns a positive result, the animal is considered BSE positive.
APHIS is currently conducting an epidemiological investigation into the animal's origin in order to attempt to trace the animal to its place of birth. It had been on the Alabama farm less than a year.
One of the first steps was to recover the carcass for examination to allow APHIS investigators to directly examine the breed and age of the animal, as well as check the animal for any form of ID, such as ear-tags. The recovery was completed late this week and confirmation made that the animal was more then 10 years old. USDA's ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban went into effect in 1997.
Initially reported to be Santa Gertrudis, the cow is now believed to be a red crossbred (possibly crossed with a Santa Gertrudis or similar breed). This animal was non-ambulatory on the farm and examined by a local, private veterinarian. The veterinarian returned to the farm the following day, euthanized the animal and collected a sample, which was submitted for testing. The animal was buried on the farm at that time.
To learn more on this evolving issue, visit www.usda.gov. -- Joe Roybal