The 18-year-old cow recently identified by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) as a case of Atypical BSE had been born in a herd in Co Cork, before an early move to the herd in Loughrea, Co Galway, where it remained for the rest of its life.

The Co Galway farmer owner reported that the animal had appeared stiff for two weeks prior to death.

On January 11, the animal was unable to rise, but recovered, before becoming unable to rise again on the morning of January 13.

The decision was taken to euthanise the animal, although it was eating and drinking at all times.

The Aberdeen Angus cow, born on March 5, 1998, was sampled by DAFM staff at a knackery, as part of the Department’s on-going official sampling of all fallen (died on farm) animals of 48 months and older.

On January 14, the DAFM was advised of the positive result to a rapid screening test carried out by an accredited, DAFM- approved private laboratory.

The sample material and the brain were subsequently forwarded to the Department’s Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, where samples from different brain areas were subjected to confirmatory testing.

All the samples had an identical molecular pattern indicating atypical L Type BSE.

Further confirmatory testing methods for BSE were also carried out, confirming the case to be atypical L type BSE.

It is the first re-occurrence of atypical L Type BSE in Ireland since June, 2015.

It is Ireland’s fourth case in total.

The animal was part of a cohort (group of individuals sharing common characteristics) of 218, but only two others were still alive, along with the case animal.

The two live cohorts were slaughtered and disposed of nine days after the DAFM was first advised of the positive BSE result.

The case animal gave birth to 12 progeny, all of which were already dead.

In keeping with the atypical L Type BSE diagnosis, the source of the case is unknown or inconclusive.

The Department confirmed there are no associated public health risks; the case animal was excluded from the food chain, and its carcase was incinerated.

This case of Atypical BSE does not have any impact on Ireland’s current OIE BSE ‘controlled risk’ status, or trade status.

In the summer of 2015, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) had already suspended Ireland’s negligible BSE risk status, just one month after awarding it, because Atypical BSE was confirmed in a five-year-old cow in Co Louth.

There are two types of BSE — the classical disease associated with feeding of meat-and-bone meal which broke out in many countries in the 1980s, and Atypical BSE which is thought to occur spontaneously.

Atypical BSE occurs sporadically in animals older than six years. There have been 101 atypical BSE cases in the EU from 2003 to 2015, compared to 2,999 cases of classical BSE in the same period.


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