BREAKING: Mad cow disease – BSE – found on Scottish farm

A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been confirmed on a farm in Scotland.

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Precautionary movement restrictions have been put in place at the Aberdeenshire farm, while further investigations to identify the origin of the disease occur.

A Scottish Government statement said: “This is standard procedure for a confirmed case of classical BSE, which does not represent a threat to human health.

“The Animal Health Agency (APHA) is investigating the source of the outbreak.

“The case was identified as a result of strict control measures we have in place.

“It did not enter the human food chain and Food Standards Scotland have confirmed there is no risk to human health as a result of this isolated case.”

Mad cow disease was first reported in the UK in 1986, peaking in 1993 with almost 1,000 new cases per week. Eating contaminated meat and cattle products was presumed to be the cause.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Following confirmation of a case of classical BSE in Aberdeenshire, I have activated the Scottish Government’s response plan to protect our valuable farming industry, including establishing a precautionary movement ban being placed on the farm.

“While it is important to stress that this is standard procedure until we have a clear understanding of the diseases origin, this is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting this type of disease is working.

“Be assured that the Scottish Government and its partners stand ready to respond to any further confirmed cases of the disease in Scotland.”

Chief Veterinary Officer Sheila Voas said: “While it is too early to tell where the disease came from in this case, its detection is proof that our surveillance system is doing its job.

“We are working closely with the Animal and Plant Health Agency to answer this question, and in the meantime, I would urge any farmer who has concerns to immediately seek veterinary advice.

Ian McWatt, Director of Operations in Food Standards Scotland said: “There are strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE, including controls on animal feed, and removal of the parts of cattle most likely to carry BSE infectivity.

“Consumers can be reassured that these important protection measures remain in place and that Food Standards Scotland official veterinarians and meat hygiene inspectors working in all abattoirs in Scotland will continue to ensure that in respect of BSE controls, the safety of consumers remains a priority.

“We will continue to work closely with Scottish Government, other agencies and industry at this time.”

All animals over four years of age that die on farm are routinely tested for BSE under our comprehensive surveillance system.

Whilst the disease is not directly transmitted from animal to animal, its cohorts, including offspring, have been traced and isolated, and will be destroyed in line with EU requirements.

The Scottish Government statement added: “In addition to the measures we have in place for fallen stock and animal feed, there is a strict control regime to protect consumers.

“This includes the removal of specified risk material such as the spinal column, brain and skull from carcasses.”

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