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Jim Rogers (202) 690-4755
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Christy Rhodes (334) 240-7103
Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

USDA/Alabama BSE Epidemiological Update

WASHINGTON , March 16, 2006 --Today, officials with the state of Alabama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have completed work at the farm in Alabama to recover the remains of the cow that tested earlier this week as positive for BSE.

Federal and state agriculture workers excavated the remains of the animal, which had been buried on the farm and did not enter the animal or human food chain, in accordance with USDA protocols. While the carcass matches the description provided by the owner, samples are being sent to USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames , Iowa to match DNA with the positive sample. The DNA will also be used to match suspected siblings and offspring found during the epidemiological investigation.

After further examination, experts confirmed through dentition that the animal was at least 10 years of age. This means the animal would have been born prior to the implementation of the Food and Drug Administration's 1997 feed ban. Human and animal health in the United States is protected by a system of interlocking safeguards, which ensure the safety of U.S. beef. The most important of these safeguards is the ban on specified risk materials from the food supply and the FDA's ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban.

In addition to the carcass, federal agriculture officials located a six-week-old calf belonging to the BSE positive animal. The calf has been quarantined and is being moved to NVSL for further observation.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will begin tomorrow to post daily updates on the progress of the epidemiological investigation on its website between 4 and 5 p.m. EST. The updates will be available at
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/bse.shtml.

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