Current News

USDA Announces BSE Identified in California Cow

What's New Image

Some healthy cows at UC Davis

April 25, 2012

Last updated May 2

On April 24, 2012, the USDA announced the detection of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a California dairy cow.
A sample from this case was first sent to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory (CAHFS) at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, one of six laboratories nationally that perform BSE testing for the USDA national surveillance program.  Following the initial screening test at CAHFS, the sample was then sent on for confirmatory testing to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

The USDA has shared the following information:

-- This case is an atypical form of mad cow disease
-- It is not associated with contaminated animal feed; feed restrictions in the U.S. have greatly reduced the risk of transmission of BSE
-- Milk and beef remain safe to consume
-- The disease is not transmitted through milk
-- The cow did not enter the food or feed supply
-- This case was identified through the ongoing surveillance system, which targets animals considered to be at high-risk because they exhibited neurological abnormalities or have died of unknown causes

Link Here for Full USDA statement of April 24, 2012

USDA blog April 25


USDA statement April 26  Mentions age of animal, symptoms at dairy

USDA update May 2

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory "CAHFS Connection" newsletter, May 2012, explains the laboratory's role in the national targeted surveillance program and testing protocols.

Dean Michael Lairmore comments, “The recent detection of BSE in a single cow illustrates the important role of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, through its exceptional network of diagnostic laboratories in partnerships with the State of California and the California food industry, to protect the public. Our mission is to advance the health of animals, people, and the environment, and the early detection of BSE as a key component of the national surveillance plan, demonstrates our commitment to this mission and to the people we all serve.

“The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS), with facilities at Davis, Tulare, Turlock, and San Bernardino, is a critical component to the animal health and food safety infrastructure that protects California's livestock and poultry. The people of CAHFS, dedicated diagnosticians and staff, have formed effective partnerships with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, veterinarians and livestock/poultry producers throughout the state. The CAHFS team represents one of the school’s many faces to the world: unsung heroes protecting the people and animals they serve in California and beyond. In addition, CAHFS is a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, providing support for national surveillance and response for animal diseases, as well as a member of the Food Emergency Response Network, created to respond to potential threats to the nation’s food supply.

"While not usually in the public eye, these unique networks of highly trained scientists and staff truly provide a safety network for all of us. The veterinary profession, through active animal disease
surveillance programs, is another example of 'One Health' at work in preventing human disease.”

Veterinary Medicine Extension Veterinarians

Beef: Doctor John Maas, 530-752-3990,

Dairy: Doctor Noelia Silva-del-Río, Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center,, 559-688-1731, ext 255  

Information about BSE, including a producer guide, surveillance information and fact sheet are available from

US Department of Agriculture

California Department of Food and Agriculture