With Reuters and Ha'aretz

Israel confirmed on Wednesday its first case of mad cow disease, found in a 10-year-old cow in the Golan Heights.

A portion of the cow's brain was sent to the Beit Dagan veterinary service labs for a quick, standard test used on all non-slaughtered cows that die. The results were positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.

Per standard operating procedure, the brain sample was sent to the World Organization for Animal Health in Switzerland for confirmation of the results.

The Agriculture Ministry has already asked the treasury for NIS 30-50 million, which the ministry estimates would be needed to cope with the problem.

The ministry added that it is putting an emergency plan into effect to examine the brains of all cattle over the age of 30 months that are sent to slaughterhouses before releasing their meat to the market. The internal organs of slaughtered cattle over the age of one year would be destroyed, the ministry said in a statement.

Israel will stop selling to the Palestinian Authority all beef that came from cows of 30 months and older in an effort to ensure that infected meat does not reach the Palestinian areas, the ministry said.

Israeli and Palestinian agricultural officials will meet in the coming days to discuss how to prevent the spread of the disease, Army Radio reported.

The ministry also said three cows of the same age group of the infected animal and two of its offspring, now in quarantine, would be culled. The dairy where the dead cow was discovered is a milk dairy, and no cows there have been sent to slaughter. It has already been proved that the disease, if present in cows, is not transmitted to humans via their milk.

The Golan dairy, run by a staff of 14 full-time employees, has 740 cows and produces 7 million liters of milk a year. It is the result of a joint venture of three kibbutzim - Ortal, Merom Golan and Elrom - and considered one of the largest dairies in the country.

BSE is believed to have spread from Britain in the mid-1990s to the European continent through feedmeal contaminated with infected material. Experts believe the human form of the disease, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and potentially deadly, is transmitted by eating meat from infected animals. Some 80 people have died of the disease since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.