Clarification letter about BSE






The Secretariat of Animal and Plant Health of Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) confirms the occurrence of two atypical cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) – known as “mad cow disease” – in two slaughterhouses: one in Nova Canaã do Norte (Mato Grosso State) and the other in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais State).


They are the fourth and fifth cases of atypical BSE reported in over 23 years of BSE surveillance. Brazil has never recorded a case of classical BSE.


Atypical BSE occurs spontaneously and sporadically, and is not linked to the ingestion of contaminated feed. All sanitary risk-mitigation actions were completed even before the final test result was published by a reference laboratory of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in Alberta, Canada. There is, therefore, no risk to either animal health or human health.


The two cases of atypical BSE – one in each establishment – were detected during ante-mortem inspection. The animals were spent cows of advanced age that were unable to stand up in the lairage.


After the cases were confirmed on 3/9/2021 in Alberta, Brazil notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) officially, in accordance with international standards. For the case of China, complying with the sanitary protocol signed between the two countries, beef exports have been temporarily suspended. The measure came into force on Saturday, September 4, and will be maintained until China’s authorities complete their assessment of the information that they have received from Brazil regarding the cases.


MAPA clarifies that the OIE excludes the incidence of cases of atypical BSE for the purpose of acknowledging the country’s official status for risk. Brazil thus maintains its classification as a country with a negligible risk for BSE, and therefore no impact on the trade in animals, animal products and animal by-products is warranted.