PRAGUE, Czech Republic — A 6-year-old cow in the Czech Republic is suspected of having "mad cow" disease, officials said Wednesday, prompting fears that the bovine illness may have spread beyond Western Europe.
"At this point, we can confirm the first suspicion of BSE in the Czech Republic," Czech Agriculture Ministry spokesman Hugo Roldan said.
Roldan said the animal was from a herd in a village in the Jihlava region, 70 miles southeast of Prague, the capital.
"This is the first test, it is necessary to confirm the first result, so we are sending the sample to a laboratory in Germany to confirm or refute our results," he said.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, has spread in herds in Britain, France and other West European countries but until now has not been suspected in Eastern Europe.
In April, the European Commission listed the Czech Republic as a country likely to present a BSE risk because it had imported live cattle and meat-and-bone meal from European Union nations where BSE has been confirmed.