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From: TSS ()
Subject: 69 cattle with BSE last year lowest since 1996 IRELAND
Date: January 5, 2006 at 8:11 am PST

69 cattle with BSE last year lowest since 1996
Thursday, 5th January, 2006

The 69 cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) found in Irish cattle last year was the lowest number recorded since 1996, end-of-year figures have shown.

In 2004 there were 126 cases of the disease, compared to 186 in 2003 and 333 in 2002, which was the highest number of cases found since the disease was first identified here in 1989.

There had been fewer than 20 cases annually reported up to 1996 when the world beef markets collapsed as the British government confirmed a link between eating BSE-infected beef and a human form of the disease vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). There was a dramatic jump in the number of recorded cases after this and 73 cases were found in 1996.

The following year there were 80 with 83 in 1998. There were 91 cases found in 1999.

Following a demand by the European Commission for much higher levels of testing for the disease in cattle not going into the food chain, the numbers jumped again to 149 in the year 2000.

More intense testing brought forward 246 cases in 2001 and the top figure of 333 was reached the following year.

However, as the disease appeared to have been mainly confined to a subset of older animals, dairy and beef-producing cows, which had been exposed to contaminated animal feed before 1997, numbers are now falling off.

In 1996, the EU demanded that cattle rations and feed for pigs and poultry, which contained meat and bonemeal, be manufactured separately, and this seems to have led to a huge decline in the infection levels in cattle.

The feeding of meat and bonemeal to cattle had been banned in Europe since the late 1980s but contamination of cattle feed continued at milling plants where pig and poultry rations containing meat and bonemeal were being assembled alongside cattle feed.

This segregation of animal feed appears to have been the most important move made in helping to combat the disease which was first identified in Britain in the mid-1980s.

The number of cases in Britain, which was hardest hit by the disease, has fallen from more than 37,000 in 1992 to just 151 cases last year.

While many European countries have not reported their final 2005 BSE figures yet, the DIE Animal Health Organisation in Paris said that Spain had 75 cases and Portugal 37 cases last year.

France and Germany, which reported 54 and 65 cases respectively in 2004, have yet to notify the DIE of last years totals.

The Department of Agriculture and Food reported that since 2001, more than 2.75 million tests for the disease have been carried out on cattle destined for human consumption and casualty cattle.

All the organs from animals where the disease is found are removed from beasts being slaughtered for consumption.


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