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THE HAGUE: Dutch officials have identified a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as “mad cow disease”, in a cow carcass, the government said Wednesday.

The infected cow “did not enter the food chain and did not pose a risk to food safety,“ Agriculture Minister Piet Adema said.

BSE is linked to the fatal human condition Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease if contaminated meat is ingested.

Dutch officials had sealed off the affected farm, whose location was not given, and were trying to trace the source of the infection, the minister said.

Any offspring, animals that had grown up with the cow or those that had shared the same feed “are tracked down, tested for BSE and taken to destruction”, he added.

Dutch experts were also testing whether it was a “classic” or “atypical” variant of the disease.

The classic form is spread when farmers feed cattle with the meat and bone meal of dead and infected animals, while the atypical form occurs sporadically in older cows.

The Netherlands reported its last case of the “atypical” variant in 2011.

If the same type was identified in the latest death, “this contamination has been dealt with,“ Adema said.

Mad cow disease first appeared in Britain in the 1980s and spread to many countries in Europe and around the world, causing consumer alarm and triggering a crisis in the beef industry.

There have been 88 cases of classic BSE reported in the Netherlands since 1997. – AFP

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