Key Topic – Atypical BSE Case Detected in Alabama

On July 18, USDA announced an atypical case of BSE in an 11-year-old cow in Alabama. The animal was identified during routine surveillance at a sale barn, never entered slaughter channels and presented no risk to the U.S. food supply or that of any U.S. trading partner.

USDA emphasized that the cow was positive for atypical BSE, which generally occurs in older animals (usually 8+ years) and arises rarely and spontaneously in all cattle populations. Atypical BSE differs from classical BSE, which is the form that has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people. The United States has not had a classical BSE case since the December 2003 case in a cow imported from Canada.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recognizes the United States as having negligible risk for BSE – its lowest-risk designation. Atypical BSE cases do not impact official BSE risk status, and therefore this case will not change the United States’ risk classification and should not result in countries restricting beef imports from the U.S. However, USMEF’s international staff is monitoring this situation carefully and is prepared to address any concerns expressed by customers. At this point the only action taken by a trading partner in response to the BSE case is South Korea’s heightening of its rate of sensory inspection for U.S. beef shipments upon arrival.

If you receive media requests regarding the BSE case, please contact Joe Schuele at or call him at 303-226-7309.