The U.S. officially has its fourth ever confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.
The USDA confirmed the case today. The infected animal was a dairy cow from Central California, according to a press release from the USDA. BSE cannot be transmitted via milk.
The cow was never meant for human consumption and did not pose a risk to the food supply, according to the USDA.
In 2011, there only were 29 cases of BSE worldwide, a dramatic drop from a peak of 37,311 cases in 1992, according to the USDA.
Much of the decrease in BSE infections stem from stringent safeguards put in place by the U.S. and countries worldwide, including banning ruminant material in cattle feed and preventing meat from nonambulatory cows from entering the food supply.
Samples from the cow were positive for atypical BSE, a rare form of the disease. USDA officials are sharing data with health organizations worldwide, according to the statement.
BSE is a progressive, neurological disease that causes aggression, loss of coordination, decreased milk production, and finally, death.
In 2004, the USDA used Neogen’s GeneSeek subsidiary to verify the origin of the first animal diagnosed with BSE in the U.S.