This year’s World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), formerly known as OIE, has decided that it is no longer necessary for compulsory reporting of atypical cases of BSE to be reported to WOAH.

This decision was taken against a background of a complete risk assessment of the disease, which the assembly recognised has dwindled to just a few numbers globally. The compulsory reporting of Classic BSE remains in place.

The difference between atypical BSE and classic BSE is that atypical BSE cases are completely random, occasionally found in older cattle and have only been recognised since intensive surveillance of BSE was introduced in the 1990s to monitor the spreading incidences of classic BSE.

Classic BSE on the other hand, is linked to animal consumption of contaminated feed, which has long since been removed from sale. Cases of classic BSE are now virtually non-existent throughout the world.

The delisting of atypical BSE from notifiable diseases should be good news for countries that export beef to China.

Due to the protocol in China, where any case of BSE meant suspension of exports, Ireland was forced to trigger the suspension in May 2021 on the discovery of an atypical case, and this was only lifted in January this year. Brazil has had similar experiences, but with shorter suspension periods.

They were out of the Chinese market between September and December 2022, and again in February this year following the discovery of isolated atypical BSE cases.