By Helen Pow
PUBLISHED: 17:22 EST, 24 April 2012 | UPDATED: 17:41 EST, 24 April 2012
Mad cow disease has been found in a cow on a dairy farm in California.
The disease can be fatal to humans who eat infected beef but the animal posed no danger to the nation’s meat eaters because it was not bound for the U.S. food supply, the Agriculture Department said on Tuesday.
‘There is really no cause for alarm here with regard to this animal,’ U.S. Department of Agriculture chief veterinary officer John Clifford said.
The cow, whose carcass has now been destroyed, was discovered through routine testing at a rendering plant in central California, but the USDA would not reveal when the disease was discovered, according to AP.
Safe: The Government says US meat eaters are not at risk despite discovering mad cow disease in an animal in California (file photo)
The Government is sharing its lab results with international animal health officials in Canada and England.
It said the case was ‘atypical’ because the animal did not catch the disease from eating infected cattle feed.
This is the fourth time mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), has been discovered in the United States since the government began testing for it in a bid to keep the food supply safe.
The other three confirmed cases were in Washington state in 2003, in 2005 in Texas and in 2006 in Alabama. The infected cow discovered in Washington state was born in Canada.
Mad cow is believed to cause a deadly brain disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in people who eat infected parts from animals with the condition.
The World Health Organization has cited tests showing humans cannot be infected by drinking milk from diseased animals.
A massive outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom that peaked in 1993 was blamed for the deaths of 180,000 cattle and more than 150 people.
There have been a small number of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease confirmed in people living in the United States, but those were linked to meat products in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease is always fatal in cattle.
The Government has begun notifying its U.S. trading partners of the discovery, according to Reuters.
U.S. cattle markets plunged on rumors of the case earlier in the trading day, with live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange falling by as much as the 3-cent-per-lb daily limit.
USDA said it was still tracing the exact life of the infected animal.
California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary Karen Ross said the detection of BSE showed the surveillance program in place in California and around the country was working.
‘Milk and beef remain safe to consume,’ she said.