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While Washington ranchers are raising a fuss over Canadian cattle and the danger of mad-cow disease, the region's only mad-cow testing lab is quietly preparing to close March 1.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently scaled back mad-cow testing by more than 90 percent, leading to closure of the WSU lab and several others around the country. The agency has backed off plans for a mandatory animal-tracking system, which can help identify the source of an infection and other animals at risk, and now says the program will be voluntary.
The USDA believes the cow became infected in Canada by eating contaminated feed. The disease can take years to develop, so older cows are considered at higher risk.
Just last week, Canada reported its ninth case of mad-cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.