Brazil confirms two mad cow disease cases at two slaughterhouses

A lot of brown and white cows together
Cows, Pantanal, Brazil, photo: Felipe Goifman via Canva

Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, confirmed two cases of mad cow disease in two separate slaughterhouses, the agriculture ministry said on Saturday.

The cases were identified in slaughterhouses in the states of Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais, the ministry said. The two cases were confirmed on Friday after samples were sent to the World Organization for Animal Health.

Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, is a fatal disease that slowly destroys an infected animal’s brain and spinal cord. There’s no cure for it.

Humans can get a form of mad cow disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). This can happen if a person eats nerve tissue of an animal infected with mad cow disease. Over time, vCJD destroys the brain and spinal cord of a person.

Beef exports to China are suspended, the ministry said. China and Hong Kong buy more than half of Brazil’s beef exports. China will decide when to begin importing again, it added.

Animal farming is one of the main drivers of Brazil’s economy. In 2019, around 32.4 million cows were killed for their meat.

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