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Mad cow disease confirmed in California

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A California dairy cow has been confirmed with a new case of mad cow disease, it was announced Tuesday. 

According to the Agriculture Department, the animal was not a danger to public health and was not headed for the nation's food supply. The department says U.S. meat and dairy supplies are safe.

At a quickly assembled press conference, John Clifford, the department's chief veterinary officer said, "There is really no cause for alarm here with regard to this animal." 

The sick cow, hailing from central CA, did not enter the food chain, officials assured. This is the fourth such diagnosis in the U.S. since the government began safety inspections.

It is unknown when the disease was discovered, or where exactly the cow was raised. Clifford said the case was discovered through regular USDA sample testing while the cow was at a rendering plant in Central California .

Eating beef tainted with mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and can be fatal to humans. 

Humans cannot be infected, however, by drinking milk from BSE-infected animals, according to tests by the World Health Organization.

BSE is always fatal in cattle.

The California cow reportedly did not contract the disease by eating infected feed, making this case atypical. Test results are being shared with international animal health officials in Canada and England.

In the 1990s, an outbreak in the United Kingdom was blamed for the deaths of approximately 180,000 cattle and 150 people.


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner

With contributions from AP

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