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Charting BSE in Spain and Portugal

06 February 2009

EU - On January 8, 2009, the Madrid Regional Environment Ministry confirmed the first case of BSE in Spain for 2009.

It is the 766th case detected in Spain since the disease first appeared in November 2000, says the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. There have been 1,063 cases reported in Portugal since 1990. This report provides a brief summary of BSE cases in Spain and Portugal.

Spain's First Case of BSE in 2009

On January 8, 2009, the Madrid Regional Environment Ministry confirmed Spain’s first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow disease,” for 2009.

The animal was a 10-year old cow from a farm in the town of Galapagar within the Regional Community of Madrid. While the cow was intended for human consumption, the disease was detected at the slaughterhouse under mandatory testing of all animals over 24 months of age. The case was detected on December 29, 2008 and confirmed by the Veterinary Central Laboratory in Algete on January 7.

Eighteen animals currently on the farm were culled in addition to all cattle born on the farm 12 months before and after the death of the infected animal.

Comparison of BSE Cases in Spain and Portugal

The progression of “mad cow” on the Iberian Peninsula has been markedly different in Spain as compared to Portugal (see Table 1 and Graph 1 below).

The first case of BSE in Portugal was confirmed in 1990 with total cases to date at 1,063. Over the past 18 years, Portuguese cases peaked twice -- in 1999 and again in 2003.

Alternatively, Spain diagnosed its first case in 2000, a decade after Portugal. Incidents peaked once in 2003, coinciding with Portugal’s second but smaller high point.

The total cattle population in Spain is about 4.5 times that of Portugal. Beginning inventories in 2008 were about 6.6 million head and 1.4 million head for Spain and Portugal, respectively. Thus, while total confirmed BSE cases have dropped more quickly in Portugal since 2004, the percentage of infected cattle in terms of total cattle population remains higher in Portugal than in Spain.

TheCattleSite News Desk


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