The officials released few details, saying it would be four
to seven days before the possible case could be confirmed.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
attacks an animal's nervous system. People who eat food
contaminated with BSE can contract a rare disease that is
nearly always fatal, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
The possible case comes 11 months after the United States
had its first case of mad cow disease. Japan and other
countries are still maintaining bans against U.S. beef as
the result of the earlier case.
Suspicions about another case of the disease came because
of an inconclusive test result, officials said.
``The inconclusive result does not mean we have found
another case of BSE in this country,'' said Andrea Morgan,
associate deputy administrator of the USDA's Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service.
She said the inconclusive results ``are a normal component
of screening tests, which are designed to be extremely
sensitive so they will detect any sample that could
possibly be positive.''