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DNA links Mabton cow to Canadian herd

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One of many Holstein cows in the Yakima Valley

Tests are back and the BSE infected cow from a Mabton dairy has been positively linked to an Alberta, Canada dairy farm.

Tissues from the infected cow was compared against semen from her sire, according to Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinary officer for the United States Department of Agriculture.

The DNA information coupled with documents from the Mabton dairy makes USDA certain in the accuracy of the trace-back, said DeHaven.

The next step, besides continuing to look for the other cows that were imported from Canada with the infected cow, is determining how the cow became infected, according to Dr. Brian Evans, chief veterinary officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Evans said that the herd the cow came from no longer exists.

"The animals that moved into the United States were in fact part of a dispersal of that herd," said Evans. "Because of health problems the owner was no longer able to sustain his dairy operation."

The herd of 86 milk cows and 16 heifers was dispersed. The majority were brought to the United States with the infected cow.

DeHaven said that although the one cow was infected, there is no indication that all 81 cows imported into the United States at the same time were infected. The USDA is continuing to seek out the additional cows that were imported into the United States with the infected cow. Nine of the cows have been located on the Mabton Dairy where the infected cow was located, and one has been located at a dairy finishing facility in Mattawa. Both the Mabton and Mattawa facilities have been quarantined.

. Melissa Browning can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail mbrowning@eaglenewspapers.com

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