A suspected mad cow has shocked the Czech State Veterinary Authority (SVS) by being only 3 years old. Previous cases of the disease in the state have always dated back to cows born between the years 1995 and 1997.
The SVS disclosed that it had found the suspected seventh case in a 3-1/2 year old cow in Lomnice nad Popelka, a town about 90km northeast of Prague.
All previous cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) suggest the infection entered the food chain in the second half of the 1990's. Test results released yesterday further backed this claim by showing that the recent sixth case of mad cow disease was also from an animal born in the middle of the last decade.
Until now the authority had thought there was only a possiblity of two explanations for the way in which BSE has been transmitted into the country. The SVS claimed that cows were infected when they were still a calf consuming imported milk replacer, in which milk fat was replaced with fat from carcass disposal plants, and through inadequately processed meat-and-bone meal.
The sixth case confirmed yesterday was in Zablati, near the town of Prachatice, 150 kms south of Prague. In response to this the SVS ordered 34 cows of a similar age and three descendants from the same herd to be slaughtered.
BSE, believed to originate from cattle feed, has been linked to the human brain-wasting variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD) killing more than 100 people in western Europe in the past decade.
Further tests are needed to confirm the suspected seventh case.