The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has detected a probable case of mad cow disease with a second positive test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) on a 15-year-old cow, but urged consumers not to panic as it may not be the same variant as the British 1990s epidemic. A definitive diagnosis of the case can only be made by a European reference laboratory in Britain.
Bjoern Roethe Knudtsen of the Food and Safety Authority said, "We have a likely and strong suspicion of a possible variant of BSE." The authorities however said that there was a distinction between the type of BSE caused by cows eating meat-based feed, banned in Europe since 2001 after the British epidemic, and an atypical version which has sporadically appeared in older cows in several European countries in recent years.
Food and Safety Authority official Solfrid Aamdal said, "We take this seriously and we are handling it as if our suspicion were confirmed." The cow's carcass was destroyed and safety measures put in place for the rest of the herd.
The Norway health authorities stressed that more and more BSE cases in Europe are of the atypical kind and that beef and milk consumption remains safe.