Swedish mad cow case confirmed

The European Commission confirmed on Friday that the first case of case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, has been detected in Sweden.

The infected animal was a 12-year-old cow which had been culled because of problems with milking fever, said the EU’s executive arm.

Sweden’s agriculture minister Ann-Christin Nykvist told Swedish Radio that it was sad that the country now had its first case of BSE.

“We’re the only [EU] country which hasn’t had any cases of BSE. Now we do and that’s sad. But I want to emphasise that there is no increased risk of eating Swedish meat. Now the Swedish Board of Agriculture will look into how the cow became infected.”

Until now, only cows that died or were culled on account of a disease have been tested for BSE in Sweden because of its special low-risk BSE status.

“As a result of this BSE case, the (European) Commission will now reconsider the grounds for the special derogation for Sweden from the requirement to test all bovine animals intended for human consumption,” said the European Commission in a statement.

Sweden conducts every year about 10,000 random tests for BSE on cows when they go to the slaughterhouse.

The commission said that there was already an investigation under way to try to discover how the cow became infected with the disease.

All offspring and other cows it had been around were being tracked down and would be culled so that no meat or products linked to the cow could enter the food or feed chain.

“It’s unexpected, extremely unexpected, but not unbelievable,” said Anders Engvall, the director general of the National Veterinary Institute to TT.

He did not rule out the possibility that more cows could be infected.

“But in that case it would be a very limited number. In 1994, when this cow was infected, we didn’t have a completely secure system for avoiding infection through meat and bonemeal. Today that is banned.”

For that reason the institute sees no immediate reason to introduce any new measures.

“Possibly there could be a requirement for increased testing of Swedish livestock in future,” said Engvall.

AFP/TT/The Local