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From: TSS ()
Subject: Boffins Probe Cluster of 'Mad Cow' Infections
Date: May 30, 2005 at 6:11 am PST

12:29pm (UK)
Boffins Probe Cluster of 'Mad Cow' Infections

By Vicky Shaw PA

Scientists are investigating a “cluster” of three BSE cases found in young cows, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed today.

Experts are trying to discover if the cows, from a farm in the Dyfed area of Wales, were infected by the same route, possibly through feed imported from abroad.

The cows are aged between 36 and 43 months. The first case was identified more than two months ago and the two others were confirmed at the end of last week.

A Defra spokesman could not confirm reports that it is the first time three cases born after 1996 have been linked to one farm and that the three-year-old cow is the first BSE case born as late as 2002 in Europe.

The BSE or “mad cow” disease crisis rocked the farming community in the early 1990s and sparked food safety fears, with hundreds of thousands of animals destroyed.

But the Defra spokesman said cases of BSE were dropping “dramatically“, falling by around 50% a year.

“Active surveillance“, whereby animals which have apparently died for reasons other than BSE are examined for the disease, has helped to boost detection.

And only 309 cases of BSE were reported last year compared with more than 36,000 in 1992.

Alan Morris, spokesman for the Farmers’ Union of Wales, said consumers could be confident.

He said: “We don’t think consumers have anything to fear because the system in force is working to detect and remove cattle before they enter the food chain.

“There is no reason for consumers to be alarmed.”


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