Case of atypical BSE, or mad cow disease, reported in Tennessee

A cow from southeast Tennessee tested positive for atypical BSE at a packing company in South Carolina, according to officials with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Published: May. 21, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT|Updated: May. 21, 2023 at 10:48 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Tennessee Department of Agriculture announced a case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or commonly known as mad cow disease was detected in a cow from southeast Tennessee.

The cow arrived at a packing company in South Carolina where staff noticed it appeared sick.

“In alignment with the United States Department of Agriculture’s BSE surveillance program, the animal was isolated and euthanized,” Assitant Commissioner for Public Affairs Corinne Gould said. “It did not enter the food supply.”

Atypical BSE is not contagious but since there is no treatment or test for it, confirmation can only come post mortem, which is why the cow was euthanized.

Gould stressed that there was no threat to the community.

“Atypical BSE poses no known risk to human health,” Gould said. “It is different from the classical form of BSE, which has not been detected in the U.S. since 2003.”

The department issued a release for livestock owners to remind them to always monitor their heard.

“Cattle owners are always advised to monitor their herds for health. Cattle affected by BSE may display changes in temperament, abnormal posture, poor coordination, decreased milk production, or loss of condition without noticeable loss of appetite. Owners should report any herd health concerns to their veterinarian or to the State Veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120."

Tennessee Department of Agriculture

This form of BSE can randomly happen in odder cattle and in very rare cases, according to Gould.

Gould confirmed with WVLT News that there was an ongoing investigation but clarified the original owner of the cow in Tennessee did not do anything wrong as they couldn’t have known the cow had atypical BSE.