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Mad cow disease found in California dairy cow

Cows

Federal officials say a case of mad cow disease has been found in a dairy cow in the Central Valley.

The animal was found at a rendering facility, John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian, told reporters Tuesday in a briefing in Washington. Its meat did not enter the food chain and the carcass will be destroyed, Clifford said.

This is the fourth confirmed case of the brain-wasting disease in the U.S. cattle herd since the first case was discovered in December 2003 in an animal that came from Canada.

[Updated at 1 p.m.: The carcass “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” Clifford said in a statement.]

Mad cow disease, which humans can get by eating beef from infected cattle, has killed 171 people and been responsible for the deaths of more than 4 million cattle, slaughtered in attempts to eradicate the disease.

Officially known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the infection is caused by prion proteins that cause the brain to start breaking down.

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-- From a Times staff writer

Photo: Cows being studied at a research facility at University of California, Davis. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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