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From: TSS (wt-d6-189.wt.net)
Subject: First case of BSE found in goat
Date: November 2, 2004 at 3:00 pm PST

LONDON TIMES online

www.timesonline.co.uk/

Britain

November 02, 2004

First case of BSE found in goat

By Valerie Elliott


Confirmation that the fatal brain disease has jumped species from cows has
alarmed sheep farmers

THE fatal mad cow disease, known as BSE, has jumped species for the first
time and has been diagnosed in a goat in France.

The news has alarmed food safety chiefs and farmers throughout Europe.
Scientists have long known there was a theoretical possibility of the
disease affecting goats and sheep but there has never been proof.

Should the disease take hold in sheep or goats in Britain, a mass cull has
been agreed. Last night scientists played down fears of such an epidemic.

The goat came to the attention of veterinary experts two years ago and
laboratory tests were conducted. Brains of the goat were injected into mice
by French scientists and the mice went on to contract BSE.

These results are now being validated by the Veterinary Laboratory Agency in
Surrey, but the Governments scientific experts believe the tests will
confirm that the goat had BSE.

The name of the French farm at the centre of the alert has not been revealed
though tests on 300 other goats in the same herd were negative. A total of
140,000 goats have been tested for BSE throughout the European Union and
this is the only case. Nevertheless there is some nervousness in the EU
about the finding.

The discovery is of particular concern to the Afro-Caribbean community
because goat is a traditional part of the West Indian diet.

The European Food Safety Authority is awaiting confirmation from the
Veterinary Laboratory Agency before deciding if new controls are necessary
on consumption of goat meat, milk and cheese in France or whether there
should be any restrictions on French exports of goat produce.

The goat may have contracted BSE by eating bovine meat and bonemeal. This
feed was banned in Britain in 1996 but a ban was not introduced in the rest
of the EU until 2001.

Meat from goat and sheep destined for human consumption is already under
strict controls. There is a ban on the consumption of brains, eyes, tonsils
and spinal chord of any goat aged over 12 months, though these parts may be
consumed from a younger animal.

A soup made using a goats head, known as manwater, is a popular delicacy
especially with people of Jamaican origin.

Christopher Higgins, chairman of the Governments main BSE advisory
committee, gave warning against the consumption or sale of this soup. He
said he would not want to eat any soup made from a goats head even though
only one case of BSE in goats had been identified.

He said: I think there is a risk from eating brains of any ruminant.
However, I suspect it is a very low risk in goats and sheep because we have
strict controls to keep high-risk BSE material from the food chain.

Professor Higgins said that a million sheep had been tested for BSE and not
one case had been found. If there is BSE in sheep, and we cant eliminate
that possibility entirely, it must be at a very, very low frequency in the
population.

Richard Wood, chairman of the British Goat Society, said he was confident
that the 50,000 goats reared in Britian produced meat and milk that was safe
to eat. We dont wish to be alarmist and we want to get all the facts.
People are concerned and want to know more.

The real threat to farming would be if the disease were found in sheep.
There are some 16 million sheep in Britain...tss



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