The US beef industry has been hit by the country's first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced on 23 December that a suspected case of BSE had been found in a Holstein cow that was slaughtered at a US plant in December. This diagnosis was later confirmed by the BSE world reference laboratory in Weybridge, UK. Several countries, including top US beef buyers Japan, Mexico and South Korea, responded by suspending imports of US beef.