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Although the U.S. reported the fourth confirmed case of mad cow in six years this week, the government is stressing there is no threat to human health and no danger of the meat entering the food chain. Officials are still investigating how the dairy cow contracted the disease.
It was "just a random mutation that can happen every once in a great while in an animal," said Bruce Akey, director of the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University. "Random mutations go on in nature all the time." Experts said the case was "atypical," meaning it was a rare occurrence in which a cow contracts the disease spontaneously, rather than through the feed supply. The risk of transmission generally comes when the brain or spinal tissue of an animal with BSE, or mad cow disease, is consumed by humans or another animal, which did not occur in this case.