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'How does a five-year-old cow have BSE?' - Simon Coveney

The agriculture minister has confirmed that Ireland’s international beef status will most likely be downgraded after the discovery of a cow with BSE on a farm in Louth.

Image: Shutterstock/Photology1971

MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE Simon Coveney has confirmed that the case of BSE, or mad cow disease, on a Co Louth dairy farm that came to light yesterday will most likely see Ireland’s international beef status downgraded back to ‘Control’ status.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Coveney reiterated that this should have no effect on our exports, while there is no human risk regarding the BSE case whatsoever.

“It is unfortunate that the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) last week put Ireland on clear status as regards our beef after 11 years of being seen as a controlled risk, and in all likelihood that will revert once again,” he said.

But that should make no difference to our trade partners who have been contacted and reassured that the situation is in hand.
Anyone who knows anything about BSE knows that it is possible for there to be an outlier undetected somewhere.

coveney Simon Coveney Source: Photocall

Coveney said that the immediate priority is to identify how the five-year-old cow contracted the disease in the first place.

“There’s only two possibilities really – either it was contracted via the animal’s feed,  which could have happened five years ago, or it was contracted either before the animal was born or spontaneously at birth,” he said.

We will be investigating both of those possibilities.

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The minister said that the cow’s three calves will be destroyed and subsequently tested for BSE also.

At the same time he pleaded for calm among the public.

“You’re looking at one case here, after more than seven million tests conducted on animals since 2002,” he said.

Ireland has an excellent system in place – cases like this will always be detected.

More: Suspected BSE case is ’80% likely’ to test positive for the disease

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