A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, has been confirmed in a beef cow in the Canadian province of Alberta, news website iPolitics said late on Thursday.

It would be Canada's first case of BSE since 2011, the report said.

Ipolitics cited an internal memo by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and a statement from Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz confirming the finding. It said no part of the carcass entered the human or animal food chain.

It was not possible to reach either Ritz or the CFIA for comment immediately.

The 2003 discovery of the first case of BSE on a Canadian farm caused many countries to halt imports of Canadian beef. Most countries have since resumed beef trade with Canada, despite the discovery of more cases since then.

BSE is believed to be spread when cattle eat protein rendered from the brains and spines of infected cattle or sheep. Canada banned that practice in 1997.

The CFIA tightened feed rules in 2007 and said the moves should help eliminate the disease nationally within a decade, although the agency has cautioned it still expected to discover the occasional new case.

A fresh discovery of BSE may not close borders to Canadian beef, given Canada's tougher measures, but it could delay the country's efforts to upgrade its international risk status from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).