Tests Clear Canada Herd Linked to Mad Cow

Test results have cleared the other cattle in the original herd linked to North America's first mad cow case in a decade, Canadian officials said Sunday.

Canada announced Tuesday that it had found one cow with the disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in a herd of 150 cows in the province of Alberta. Cattle feed from animal sources contaminated with BSE is considered the most likely cause of the infection, officials said.

Claude Lavigne of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the original herd was cleared but 17 other herds that had come into contact with the infected cow were still being investigated.

"The results from diagnostic testing on the first quarantined herd are negative," said Dr Claude Lavigne of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. "It means the incidence of BSE in Canada presently remains in one cow."

Since the announcement of the BSE case, the United States, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia and Barbados banned all beef imports from Canada, despite reassurances from government and industry officials that the beef is safe.

"This news is very encouraging," Lavigne said of the test results. "The message to the world is a clear one - our systems are safe... (and) there is nothing to indicate that the safety of Canadian beef has been compromised."

The human form of mad cow disease is the illness is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes paralysis and death. Scientists believe humans develop new variants of Creutzfeldt-Jakob when they eat meat from infected animals. More than 130 people have died of the disease, mostly in Britain.