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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - After announcing over the weekend that all other cattle in the original herd linked to last week's mad cow disease case in Canada tested negative for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Canadian agriculture officials said they are continuing their investigation in hopes of tracing the origin of the infected animal.
"The results from diagnostic testing on the first quarantined herd are negative," said Dr. Claude Lavigne of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in a news conference. "It means the incidence of BSE in Canada presently remains in one cow."
Lavigne said 17 farms remain under quarantine across the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia while officials tried to piece together which other herds had contact with the infected cow, or with poultry feed rendered from its carcass.
To date, more than 400 head of cattle have been destroyed to ensure that the case, first announced May 20, was an isolated incident. All calves sold out of the original herd are now being removed from their current herds, slaughtered and tested, with results due later this week.
Another 180 have been slaughtered for more testing, including genetic tracing in search of where and when the infected cow was born, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's chief veterinary officer told a news conference Monday.
The fallout of last week's announcement has brought Canada's $22 billion beef industry to a near standstill. In addition to the U.S., Japan, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Barbados have all banned beef imports from Canada indefinitely, pending further investigation.
In other developments, Reuters reports that parts of the Canadian cow that tested positive for mad cow disease may have been used to make dry dog food that was shipped to the U.S., the FDA said yesterday.
While there has been no scientific evidence so far that dogs can contract the disease or spread it to humans, the FDA notified Pet Pantry International of Carson City, Nev., when the agency learned from the Canadian government that Pet Pantry had received food that may have included material from the cow.
The suspect dog food was made by Champion Pet Food of Morinville, Alberta, between February 4 and March 12, 2003.
The Canadian government prevented the cow being processed for human food. "Consumers can be assured that their food does not contain any remnants of the BSE positive cow," an FDA statement said.
As a "prudent measure" to help assure that the U.S. remains free of the brain-wasting disease known as mad cow disease, Pet Pantry is asking customers to hold on to the suspected food so that it will not mistakenly be mixed into cattle or other feeds.
There was no retail distribution of the Pet Pantry products, which were packed in 50-pound bags, distributed to franchises around the U.S., and sold by home delivery only, according to the FDA. The products included "Maintenance Diet" labeled with a use-by date of Feb. 17, 2004 and "Beef with Barley" with a date of March 5, 2004.
Consumers are asked not to destroy or discard the product themselves as the FDA is working with Pet Pantry to ensure proper disposal.