Windhoek – Hot on the heels of Namibia becoming the first country in Africa to qualify for beef exports to China, Namibia has negligible bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease risk. This remarkable achievement was announced at the recent 84th general session of the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) General Assembly, held from May 22 to 27 in Paris, France.
Six countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas were recognised as having a “negligible BSE risk”; while Namibia has become the first country in Africa to be awarded official disease-free status in regard to BSE.
In addition, three countries were granted “free from contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP)” status in the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
Paul Strydom, the general manager of the Meat Board of Namibia yesterday told New Era Namibia should be very proud of this incredible achievement, saying the country has once again taken the lead in Africa to change perceptions about the animal health status of Africa.
“Any improvement in the country’s disease status will assist the meat industry in accessing better markets. I congratulate the Directorate of Veterinary Services for this remarkable achievement,” so soon after they also were instrumental in opening the doors for Namibian beef to be exported to China soon. These breakthroughs with animal health status push Namibia to the top of the African continent and we should all be very proud of the achievement,” he noted.
Namibia’s latest achievement also comes on the heels of the Directorate of Veterinary Services successfully combatting two outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease last year at a whopping cost of N$180 million.
Mad cow disease is an infectious disease caused by prions that affect the brains of cattle. The actual name of the disease is bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a name that refers to the changes seen in brain tissue of affected cows.
Abnormal proteins called prions are found in brain tissue of diseased cattle and appear to be the particles that transmit the infection.
Characteristic changes are seen in the brain of infected cattle. Infection leads to tiny holes in parts of the brain, giving the tissue a sponge-like appearance when viewed under a microscope.
These so-called spongy holes cause slow deterioration within the cow’s brain and eventually other symptoms develop affecting the whole body. Death follows.
If humans eat diseased tissue from affected cattle, they may develop the human form of mad cow disease known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) or new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.