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Animal Disease Risk BSE

Disease surveillance, eradication, and control programs have achieved significant success over the years in reducing animal disease in the U.S. Yet animal disease remains a reality in the U.S. as illustrated in the following examples.

Click on each example to read how the inability to effectively trace diseased animals can have widespread consequences.

A cow

Cattle - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)

BSE is not common in the U.S. and feeding regulations in this country makes it unlikely an outbreak will be widespread. This case study, however, illustrates how a high profile disease can have a serious impact on the confidence of consumers and trading partners.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a chronic, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle. Also known as "mad cow disease," BSE was discovered in Britain in 1986 and has remained a worldwide concern to the present day. BSE spreads among cattle primarily through feed containing meat and bone meal made from rendered ruminant products of infected animals.


  • The first diagnosis of BSE in the U.S. occurred on December 23, 2003
  • A second BSE case was discovered on June 24, 2005 from the sample of a 12-year old Texas cow
  • A third BSE case was discovered on March, 15 2006 from the sample of a 10-year old Alabama cow

Investigative Summary:

  • A large number of cows associated with the index herd were untraceable in each investigation
  • Each BSE case required the investigation of at least eight different herds
  • The three investigations took a total of 155 days to complete


  • U.S. beef exports dropped from a record 2.5 billion pounds in 2003 to 461 million pounds in 2004, a fall of over 80 percent. The outbreak cost the beef industry over $2 billion in 2004 alone.

Group of cows

Cattle - Bovine Tuberculosis

A pig

Swine - Psuedorabies Virus


Poultry - Exotic Newcastle Disease (END)

A horse

Equine - Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA)

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