APHIS alters BSE testing program

Agency to stop collecting samples from calves younger than 12 months of age.

Beginning Sept. 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) stopped collecting samples from calves younger than 12 months of age as part of its ongoing surveillance testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), according to an "APHIS Stakeholder Registry" notice.

This is a change from the current process where cattle of any age showing central nervous system signs are tested for BSE.

APHIS said it is making this change for several reasons, including:

* Classical BSE has never been detected in an animal born in the U.S., and APHIS has tested more than 1 million animals since the beginning of the BSE surveillance program.

* BSE has never been detected in cattle less than 12 months of age worldwide.

* Neither the World Organization for Animal Health nor the VS BSE surveillance system assigns a surveillance value or points to cattle less than 12 months of age.

To continue to test these young animals for BSE is neither an effective nor a responsible use of limited federal funds and government resources, APHIS said.

This change applies only to the BSE Ongoing Surveillance Program. If epidemiological investigations of BSE cases lead to animals less than 12 months of age, they will be tested, the agency added.

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