Case of mad cow disease found on Somerset farm as investigation launched

The single case of classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was identified in the animal, which is now dead and has been removed from the farm and said there is ‘no risk to food safety’

There has been a single case of Mad Cow disease confirmed on a farm in Somerset

A case of Mad Cow disease has been identified on a farm in Somerset.

The single case of classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was identified in the animal, which is now dead and has been removed from the farm, the Animal and Plant Health Agency said.

The agency said there was “no risk to food safety”, adding that “precautionary movement restrictions” were in place to stop livestock moving around while “further investigations continue to identify the origin of the disease”.

Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said the cow was tested as part of “TSE surveillance controls”.

She added: “This is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting and containing this type of disease is working.

It has been confirmed that the cow is dead and it never posed a risk to human safety



“We recognise this will be a traumatic time for the farmer and we are on hand to offer advice through this difficult period.

“The UK’s overall risk status for BSE remains at ‘controlled’ and there is no risk to food safety or public health.”

Apha will be launching a “thorough investigation of the herd, the premises, potential sources of infection and will produce a full report on the incident in due course”.

Mad cow disease was first reported in the UK in 1986, peaking in 1993 with almost 1,000 new cases per week with roughly 4,000,000 cattle slaughtered to stop the infection spreading.

Eating contaminated meat and cattle products was presumed to be the cause.

What is BSE?

BSE stands for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – a disease which infects cows, attacks their central nervous system and is generally fatal. Symptoms typically include a lack of co-ordination and aggression, leading it to be known as mad cow disease.

Can it be passed to humans?

Scientists believe the disease can be passed to humans through the food chain, causing a fatal condition called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD).

There have been five cases of Mad Cow disease in the UK since 2014, Apha said.

It added that all of the cases were in animals not destined to be made into meat for human consumption and posed no risk to the general public.

A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency 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 Agency Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors working in all abattoirs in England will continue to ensure that the safety of consumers remains the top priority.”

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