Canadian BSE Programme Focuses on New Standards

CANADA - Over the past four years, Alberta’s cattle producers have worked closely with the federal and provincial governments to meet international requirements for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance.
calendar icon 23 May 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Now, with the help of a new pilot program developed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD), producers will be able to focus their efforts on the animals the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) identifies as being most at risk.

Effective July 1, 2008, the Canada-Alberta BSE Surveillance Program (CABSESP) will introduce changes that will shift the surveillance focus to testing younger high-risk cattle for which critical disease history and diagnoses are available. “CABSESP has done a tremendous job of gathering information on BSE levels in older Alberta cattle,” explains Dr. Gerald Ollis, Chief Provincial Veterinarian. “A move toward more targeted, precise sampling further strengthens Alberta’s vitally important cattle industry and provides a possible model for the rest of the country.” To date CABSESP has tested more than 100,000 high-risk cattle – representing more than 40 per cent of the cattle tested in Canada.

The new pilot program is in keeping with OIE surveillance standards, which use a point system to assess the value of member country’s BSE surveillance. Because most cases of BSE show up in cattle between four and seven years of age, the OIE point system assigns a higher value for high-risk cattle in that age range. “Knowing that, we determined that cattle over 107 months will no longer qualify for BSE testing unless they have neurological signs indicating they may have BSE,” says Ollis. Other program changes include:

  • only licensed veterinarians certified by ARD can participate in CABSESP
  • veterinarians must verify the age of the animal sampled. Dentition can be used for animals up to five years of age and farm records are required for animals between 60 and 107 months of age
  • veterinarians must provide a comprehensive description of the herd and operation, not just the animal
  • in the case of a dead animal, veterinarians will be required to conduct a post-mortem and record the cause of death
  • producers must be in possession of the animal for at least 30 days in order to provide an adequate clinical history

Producers who submit an animal for testing that meets the new standards will continue to receive a reimbursement of $225 for each animal.

Although the new age cut-offs will reduce the number of animals eligible for testing, by selecting cattle that yield the highest surveillance point values, international confidence in negative test results will be maintained. “These changes are designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the mitigations put in place to prevent the spread of BSE in Canada and the strength of Canada’s BSE surveillance program to other countries. Our goal is to maintain Canada’s controlled BSE risk status.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2023 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.