BSE has been detected in the UK for the first time in three years, during routine surveillance on a farm in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy was found in one dead animal last week at Boghead Farm in Lumsden, in the North East of Scotland. As part of the routine surveillance, all stock cattle over four years of age that die on farms are tested for BSE.
Precautionary movement restrictions have been put in place at the farm, in accordance with the disease prevention and response plan. The Animal and Plant Health Agency is carrying out an investigation to identify the origin of the disease.
The infected animal is reported to be five years old. It did not enter the food chain and Food Standards Scotland has said there is no threat to food safety or human health.
Scottish government chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas said: ‘While it is too early to tell where the disease came from in this case, its detection is proof that our surveillance system is doing its job.
‘We are working closely with the animal and plant health agency to answer this question, and in the meantime, I would urge any farmer who has concerns to immediately seek veterinary advice.’
The last case of BSE was detected in 2015. Between 2011 and 2015, 16 cases were identified.
Rural affairs minister, Mairi Gougeon, told the Scottish Parliament: ‘Clearly it is extremely disappointing to have a confirmed case of BSE in Scotland. However, I can provide full assurances that all required steps have been taken to protect consumerism to protect food safety and the farming and food sectors. We are taking this very seriously.’
Farmer Thomas Jackson issued a statement through the National Farmers’ Union Scotland. He said: ‘This has been a very difficult time for myself and my wife and we have found the situation personally devastating.
‘We have built up our closed herd over many years and have always taken great pride in doing all the correct things. To find through the surveillance system in place that one of our cows has BSE has been heartbreaking.’