Mad Cow Disease will serve the
latest blow to Canada's economy
after the SARS threat

A spokesperson for the Canadian food inspection agency confirmed the two farms had been isolated but said she did not know where they were located.

The crisis emerged on Tuesday when officials said an eight-year-old cow from a farm in the western province of Alberta had been diagnosed with the disease. The herd was quarantined and will be destroyed.

The United States, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Mexico swiftly stopped Canadian beef imports.

Last year 90% of US’ beef imports were from Canada. Alberta beef producing officials said the closure of the US border would have the biggest impact.

Alberta accounts for nearly 60% of Canada’s beef production, providing $2.8 billion in annual farm cash receipts.

Canadian officials said it would take up to a week to discover the origins of the diseased animal.

Canada’s only other case of brain-wasting Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was in 1993 but the animal was imported from Britain. Canadian officials stressed the animal had not entered the food chain.

Britain, where the disease was first diagnosed in 1986, destroyed 3.7 million cattle in the 1980s and 1990s because of BSE.

The human-form of BSE is variant Creutzfeldt-Kakob Disease (VCJD), a fatal brain-wasting disease believed to be contracted by eating certain parts of infected animals.