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Video: Mad cow disease found in California

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    >>> the news came late today, it sounded alarming, the first confirmed case of mad cow disease in the u.s. in six years. this case in a dairy cow in the state of california . the government says the food supply is safe, but this discovery is raising a lot of questions. our report tonight from our chief science correspondent robert bazell .

    >> reporter: the cow was found at a recycling plant for dead live stop in hanford, california. u.s. officials insists it presents no threat to human health .

    >> this particular animal did not enter the food supply at any time. there's no concern about that.

    >> reporter: bse, commonly called mad cow disease is a fatal disintegration of the brain and nervous system . it first gained attention in britain in the '80s and '90s, where more than 4.4 million cattle were slaughter to control the outbreak. the disease is usually transmitted by a rare infectious agent called a prion. though cases can appear spontaneously. usually the disease is acquired by eating the tissue of an infected animal. animals had been a common source of food for cows in britain . in britain , 175 people including jonathan sims got a human form of the disease by eating meat from the infected animals. health officials say milk does not transmit the disease, so the infected dairy cow does not pose a hazard. there was no mad cow disease detected in the u.s. until 2003 , when a cow born in canada was detected in washington state . after that, the u.s. set up a surveillance system, japan and some other countries for a time banned the import of u.s. beef. something officials hope will not happen again.

    >> this announcement should not disrupt trade, and the reason for that is, the -- we follow international guidelines.

    >> reporter: including today's finding, u.s. officials have found four cows in the u.s. with mad cow disease . and in 2006 , the surveillance program was cut back because it was finding so few cases. consumer groups are demanding increased surveillance. but the critical take home message is, there is no evidence of any threat to human health .

    >> the original isolated case. robert bazell , thank you as always.

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