Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, often called mad cow disease, most recently made the news again when the USDA confirmed its fourth case in a dairy cow in central California. This case was “atypical BSE”, which means the disease occurs spontaneously without any source such as contaminated feed, and was only the fourth in the U.S.since the testing program started a decade ago. Good to know, as that means there wasn’t a breakdown in the ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, or any of the other safeguards that have been put in place in the United States. It also means the USDA is doing its job when it comes to maintaining a surveillance program for the disease. But this still has left many people wondering if they were at risk of contracting the disease. There have only been 29 cases reported worldwide and none of those have been from cattle raised in the United States, a reassurance that the federal government has been highly successful at keeping it out of our nation’s food supply. BSE is without a doubt a nasty disease with a scary sounding name, but it is still extremely rare when compared to outbreaks of e coli and salmonella.