Tuesday, July 18, 2017                                                                 Contact: Hassey Brooks or Daniel Autrey 334-240-3877

Atypical BSE in Alabama Cow 

Montgomery, Ala. – The Commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, John McMillan, confirmed that the department is working with USDA officials to address a positive test for atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an eleven-year old Alabama beef cow.

This was an atypical BSE case, meaning it is a rare and spontaneous incident. The animal was discovered during routine surveillance at an Alabama livestock market. This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to food supply or to human health.

Following delivery to the livestock market the cow later died at that location. Routine tissue samples were taken and sent to diagnostic laboratories in Colorado and Iowa for testing and confirmation. The results were confirmed for atypical BSE at the USDA laboratory in Ames, Iowa. 

Unlike previous cases of classical BSE, this case is not the result of ruminant by-products being fed to ruminants. The United States banned the use of such protein supplements in cattle in 1997. In 2009, the USDA implemented the enhanced surveillance testing programs to protect animal and human health. Included in the regulation was the removal of specified risk materials - or the parts of an animal that would contain BSE - from all animals presented for slaughter. Another important component of the system - which led to this detection - is the ongoing BSE surveillance program that allows USDA to detect the disease in the U.S. cattle population.

“The Alabama beef industry is vital to our state’s agriculture economy,” said Commissioner McMillan. “The response to this case by USDA officials and our department’s professionals led by State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier has been exemplary. This instance proves to us that our on-going surveillance program is working effectively.”

State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier added, “The ADAI conducts routine surveillance that includes collecting samples by trained field staff and veterinarians and has a response plan in place.”

For more information and questions about BSE visit or contact us by email at or by phone at 334-240-7274.