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From: TSS ()
Subject: Re: U.S. checking for possible case of mad cow disease Friday, June 10, 2005
Date: June 10, 2005 at 7:55 pm PST

In Reply to: U.S. checking for possible case of mad cow disease Friday, June 10, 2005 posted by TSS on June 10, 2005 at 7:53 pm:

PLEASE note, the june 2004 BSE enhanced surveillance
was meaningless and ''NOT SCIENTIFIC'' without WB.

just ask the experts ;


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Q&A Dr. Jean-Philippe Deslys USDA REFUSAL TO USE WB ON TEXAS COW WITH BSE SYMPTOMS (FULL TEXT)
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2005 11:53:47 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
To: BSE-L@LISTS.UNI-KARLSRUHE.DE

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

Q&A Dr. Jean-Philippe Deslys

1. What is the standard regime for testing of suspect animals in the EU?

The regime is an initial screening by a high-output test, the Bio-Rad test. If a result raises suspicion, a confirmatory test is conducted with the Western blot test.

2. How long has this been the case?

Its a fairly recent development. Only recently has the Western blot test become sensitive enough, with the addition of phospohtungstic acid precipitation step. The Bio-Rad test (which Deslys helped develop) is extremely sensitive, and the standard Western blot is extremely reliable with high-signal test results. However, it had to be made more sensitive for low-signal (samples with low density of malformed prions) samples. It has been made more sensitive.

Reproducibility is the problem with the IHC test. It is not standardized; depending on the lab and its protocols, or even on the technician involved in the test, one can get conflicting results.

3. Is there a way to measure the three tests in sensitivity, accuracy and objectivity?

Historically, yes. The IHC was the gold standard at one point, but we have shifted to the Western blot. It requires less work, it is more sensitive and its results are reproducible. IHC relies on localization. If you have a weak signal case, you may get lucky and test a spot with a high concentration of prions. But the opposite it true too; you can miss an infection by testing a sample with low concentrations. Western blot is much better for low signal situations.

4. The USDA in 2003 used the Western blot to confirm the BSE case in Washington state, and it sent samples to the U.K. for independent testing. In the case this November, which it announced was negative, it instead used the IHC test and did not send samples to the U.K. Is this good science?

Its not logical. If you have two consecutive questionable screenings, you do another test. I can only advise, its managements duty at USDA to make the decisions. But when you have a discrepancy between the rapid test and the IHC, it is only logical to confirm it with another test.

5. We are hearing now about a new strain of BSE, atypical BSE or aBSE. Or BaSE. We have heard that IHC, the so-called gold standard, cannot detect the variant. Is this true?

Yes. There have been a few cases, one in Italy, one in Belgium, one here in France. It seems to only affect very old animals. The distribution in the brain is very different than we see with BSE, it looks very different. The IHC test will come back negative.

This his a very recent phenomenon. I have no opinion on its virulence. We do not know where it comes from. It could be a version of sporadic infection. Western blot caught them, but we would not even know it existed if we werent running systematic testing in the EU.

BSE was around for a long time before we caught it and by then, it was everywhere. It had become highly infectious. It probably amplified due to low-temperature rendering. The disease was recycled through the food chain, and was given time to amplify. By the time it was identified, even good cooking couldnt eliminate it.

I cant stress enough that systematic testing is necessary. Withdrawing all positives from the food chain is the best way to break the cycle.

What can happen with testing of only cattle that are clearly at risk is that several can remain undetected. Canada has tested about 30,000 head of cattle and has three positives. That would indicate that there are probably undiscovered cases. And what happens then is that the disease is allowed to amplify. You have to maintain testing.

When people choose to protect their economic interests over public health, it can have a boomerang effect. It happened all through Europe. They always deny; its not OUR problem, it is our neighbors problem. And then a single case is discovered and the public reacts. The economic results are devastating. It would be better to just assume BSE is present and use systematic testing as protection. That way, the public is reassured that it is not entering the food supply.

By systematic testing, I mean doing as we do in the EU, which is to test every animal over 30 months of age when it is slaughtered. In Europe, three times as many cases of BSE have been caught by systematic testing as by clinical testing (of clearly sick animals). In 2004, eight clinical cases were discovered, 29 were discovered at rendering plants, and 17 at slaughter. We should be using these tests as a weapon to protect the public and to give them assurance that the food supply is being protected.

6. USDAs list of specified risk materials excludes some products, like blood and bone meal, that are banned in the EU and UK. Is our feed supply safe?

With SRMs, where do you stop? Tests have found prions in meat, nerves travel through meat, and so on. The main infectivity is in the brain and the spinal cord. A blood and bone meal ban in animal feed is not really necessary, because except in cases of highly infective animals, it is unlikely that they are dangerous in themselves. If you combine systematic testing and targeted SRM removal, the brain and the spinal column in cattle over 30 months, you can have a compromise that is both safer and less costly than expanded feed bans.

Certainly, you can stop the spread of BSE with a total ban on offal. But it has to be a total ban. It cant be given to sheep or swine or poultry. It would be very expensive and virtually impossible to accomplish. You can have farmers using the wrong feed or transportation errors.

Systematic testing makes far more sense. I think of it as a thermometer. It not only allows us to catch the disease, it also allows us to monitor its progress. We can watch the levels of infectivity and if they start going up instead of down, we can take measures.

To an extent, our environment is contaminated. About 10 percent of wild animals test positive for TSEs. If you recycle these agents, they can evolve and get more dangerous. This is probably what happened with BSE. It wasnt very dangerous until it evolved to the disease we know today.

People complain that testing is very expensive. It is much more expensive to kill and test whole herds.

7. In your opinion, is infected feed the sole method of transmission of BSE, apart from the very rare maternal transmission?

Feed is the main problem. However, we are seeing some other possibilities, including through fat and greases. Calves are fed milk extracts, with the cream removed. To make it nutritious, they are using fat and grease from cattle.

(FOLLOW QUESTION: Would that allow BSE to develop into an infective level in cattle younger than 30 months, assuming they might be getting infected at a younger age?)

8. You were involved in a study that tested two primates who were fed infected brain tissue. One eventually died of TSE; the other survived. The press reported that the main finding was that it would take something on the order of 1.5 kilograms of infected matter to create an infection, but that seems to be an oversimplification. Could you explain it further?

The findings suggest that as little as five grams is enough to infect. The 1.5 kilo figure is the amount of infected tissue that would have to be ingested from an animal that would be below the threshold of infection, and would test negative. In other words, even though a younger animal may be developing the disease, it would take a considerable amount of tissue to transmit the disease.

An animal could be just below the testing level, and not be particularly dangerous. But that is why you have to keep testing. Once it reaches the threshold, it can become highly infective.

9. BSE is a pretty horrifying disease, but overall, it has killed less than 200 humans, and only a handful in recent years. Listeria, by comparison, kills thousands every year. Overall, how do you rate the threat from BSE?


The overall risk is not particularly high. Over two million infected animals went into the food chain in Europe, 400,000 of them before the SRMs, the brains and spinal column, were removed from the carcass. Less than 200 died, and less than 4,000 are at risk of developing the disease. What we know now is that one particle is not going to kill you. There has to be condensation of the prions to be truly dangerous.

This is not a sterile world. But the danger is that now that the crisis appears to be over, attention will turn elsewhere and that will allow the disease to amplify again. Just as we stopped paying attention to AIDS when medication seemed to control it, then were surprised when a new and more infectious and aggressive strain appeared, we could be surprised by a more serious strain of BSE. That is why I support systematic testing for the long term. The object is to keep levels of BSE low, and to recognize the danger if it suddenly pops back up. ...END

TSS

######### https://listserv.kaliv.uni-karlsruhe.de/warc/bse-l.html ##########

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Q&A Dr. Jean-Philippe Deslys USDA REFUSAL TO USE WB ON TEXAS COW WITH BSE SYMPTOMS (FULL TEXT)
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2005 12:14:14 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
To: BSE-L@LISTS.UNI-KARLSRUHE.DE
References: <42692C1B.7090200@wt.net>

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

IN FACT, i must bring this up again.
IN TEXAS, when they are really worried about a mad cow,
when the cow is clinical and stumbling and staggering, TEXAS
does not bother TESTING the cow at all. nope, they just send
it directly to be rendered head and all to get rid of all evidence.
the june 2004 enhanced bse cover-up was just that. the USA
could test every cow that goes to slaughter, and it would be meaningless
unless properly done with the most sensitive testing to date.
but not in TEXAS or any other state in the USA.............


FDA Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement
May 4, 2004

Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA


Statement on Texas Cow With Central Nervous System Symptoms

On Friday, April 30 th , the Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed.

FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse.

FDA's investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into "meat and bone meal" (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.

Cattle with central nervous system symptoms are of particular interest because cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, also known as "mad cow disease," can exhibit such symptoms. In this case, there is no way now to test for BSE. But even if the cow had BSE, FDA's animal feed rule would prohibit the feeding of its rendered protein to other ruminant animals (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, bison).

FDA is sending a letter to the firm summarizing its findings and informing the firm that FDA will not object to use of this material in swine feed only. If it is not used in swine feed, this material will be destroyed. Pigs have been shown not to be susceptible to BSE. If the firm agrees to use the material for swine feed only, FDA will track the material all the way through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is properly monitored and used only as feed for pigs.

To protect the U.S. against BSE, FDA works to keep certain mammalian protein out of animal feed for cattle and other ruminant animals. FDA established its animal feed rule in 1997 after the BSE epidemic in the U.K. showed that the disease spreads by feeding infected ruminant protein to cattle.

Under the current regulation, the material from this Texas cow is not allowed in feed for cattle or other ruminant animals. FDA's action specifying that the material go only into swine feed means also that it will not be fed to poultry.

FDA is committed to protecting the U.S. from BSE and collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on all BSE issues. The animal feed rule provides crucial protection against the spread of BSE, but it is only one of several such firewalls. FDA will soon be improving the animal feed rule, to make this strong system even stronger.

####

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01061.html

TSS

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date
------------------------------------------------------------------------

APHIS Statement: June 29 Inconclusive BSE Test is Negative 07/02/2004

APHIS Statement: First Inconclusive BSE Test is Negative 06/30/2004

APHIS Statement Regarding Second Inconclusive BSE Test 06/29/2004

APHIS Statement Regarding First Inconclusive BSE Test 06/25/2004

Week 25
(11/1511/21)
7,900
1
Negative
0
7,901

Week 5
(6/287/4)
3,500
1
Negative
0
3,501
Week 4
(6/216/27)
3,254
1
Negative
0
3,255

USDA orders silence on mad cow in Texas

By Steve Mitchell
United Press International
Published 5/11/2004 10:16 PM

WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued an order instructing its inspectors in Texas, where federal mad cow disease testing policies recently were violated, not to talk about the cattle disorder with outside parties, United Press International has learned.

The order, sent May 6 by e-mail from the USDA's Dallas district office, was issued in the wake of the April 27 case at Lone Star Beef in San Angelo, in which a cow displaying signs of a brain disorder was not tested for mad cow disease despite a federal policy to screen all such animals.

The deadly illness also is known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Both the USDA and its Inspector General -- amid allegations that an offsite supervisor overruled the opinion of the inspectors onsite and made the final decision not to test the animal -- have opened up investigations to determine why agency policy was violated.

The order, which was obtained by UPI, was issued by Ijaz Qazi, circuit supervisor for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service's Dallas district, which covers the entire state. It reads: "All BSE inquiries MUST be directed to Congressional Public Affairs Phone 202-720-9113 attention Rob Larew OR Steve Khon. This is an urgent message. Any question contact me. Ijaz Qazi."

Although the language might sound innocuous, experienced inspectors familiar with USDA parlance have taken to referring to the notice as a "gag order."

The National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals -- the national inspectors union -- considers the order a violation of inspectors' free speech rights and is considering legal action against the USDA for breaching the labor agreement they have with the agency.

Inspectors alleged the order also suggests the agency is concerned about its personnel leaking damaging information about either the Texas case or the USDA's overall mad cow disease surveillance program, which has come under fire since the discovery of an infected cow in Washington state last December.

"Anytime the government suppresses an individual's freedom of speech, that's unconstitutional," Gary Dahl, president of Local 925, the Colorado inspectors union, told UPI.

Stanley Painter, chairman of the National Joint Council, said the USDA has sent out notices in the past stating inspectors cannot talk to reporters.

"It's an intimidation thing," Painter told UPI. Inspectors have the right to talk to anybody about any subject, as long as they clarify they are not speaking on behalf of the USDA and they are not doing it on government time, he said.

USDA spokesman Steven Cohen said he was not familiar with the notice from the Dallas office. He said he would look into it, but did not respond by UPI's publication time. In general, Cohen said, "There's an expectation any statement on behalf of the agency would come from the office of communications (in Washington.)"

Asked if employees could speak freely as long as they clarified that their views did not reflect those of the agency, Cohen said, "We'd rather that agency policy be communicated by those in a position to speak for the agency."

Qazi told UPI the notice was not issued in conjunction with the Texas case and it was routine agency practice that outside inquiries be referred to the Washington office. He said inspectors are free to talk to outside parties, including reporters, and he did not consider the e-mail a violation of the labor agreement with the inspectors.

Painter said the USDA's efforts to keep its employees from talking about mad cow would be better spent "with issues like protecting the consuming public instead of trying to hide things." He added he would "just about bet his last nickel" agency management was attempting to suppress information about the Texas case.

"To keep federal employees from reporting government waste, misuse of appropriations -- those types of things -- that's not a good thing either," Dahl said. "If there is something wrong, let's get it out in the open -- let's get it fixed. We're working for the public, the American consumers. I think they have the right to know this," he said.

"And believe me there's so many indicators saying that the USDA's mad cow testing program is broken," Dahl added.

At least one member of Congress, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, agrees.

Harkin, a long-time critic of the USDA, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman on Monday, saying the Texas incident "calls into question the effectiveness and reliability of USDA's current and proposed surveillance system."

The USDA has proposed testing more than 200,000 cows -- or 10 times its current rate -- in an expanded program scheduled to begin June 1. Harkin wrote in the five-page letter, however, that given the realities of the cattle industry, it is "quite doubtful" the USDA will be able to test that many cows, particularly because it had difficulty finding 20,000 last year.

"We simply cannot tolerate a BSE testing system that fails to give valid answers to critical questions for U.S. consumers and foreign customers," Harkin said in the letter, which sharply criticizes the agency's failure to address explicitly how its new surveillance program will be implemented.

"We look forward to receiving (Harkin's) letter and having the opportunity to review it and respond to him," USDA spokesman Ed Loyd told UPI. "USDA has acknowledged there was a failure in not testing that cow in Texas for BSE, so we are all working to ensure that does not occur again."

Jim Rogers, a spokesman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees the agency's mad cow surveillance program, told UPI the agency has tested about 15,500 animals since fiscal year 2004 began, on Oct. 1, 2003. However, the agency has refused to identify the states and facilities from which the cows originated. Rogers said UPI would have to seek that information through the Freedom of Information Act.

The question is central to the USDA's implementation of its expanded surveillance program. Downer cows -- those unable to stand or walk -- made up the bulk of the animals the agency tested for mad cow in previous years, but these were banned from being slaughtered for human consumption in December. This means the agency inspectors no longer can obtain brain samples from these cows at slaughterhouses as they could in the past.

Furthermore, the USDA has not provided any evidence it has worked out agreements with rendering facilities or ranchers, where downers and dead cows are now most likely to be found, to obtain the extra animals for testing.

Loyd said the agency is "working very hard to get animals on the farm that would never show up in a processing facility," and he was "not aware of any issues" that would delay the launch of the new program.

However, he was unable to provide the names or locations of the rendering facilities where the agency will be obtaining cow brains for BSE testing. He said he would look into it but did not return two follow-up phone calls from UPI before publication.

--

Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail sciencemail@upi.com

Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20040511-015527-4917r


USDA did not test possible mad cows

By Steve Mitchell
United Press International
Published 6/8/2004 9:30 PM

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims it tested 500 cows with signs of a brain disorder for mad cow disease last year, but agency documents obtained by United Press International show the agency tested only half that number.

USDA officials said the difference is made up in animals tested at state veterinary diagnostic laboratories, but these animals were not tested using the "gold standard" test employed by the agency for confirming a case of the deadly disease. Instead, the state labs used a less sensitive test that experts say could miss mad cow cases.

In addition, the state lab figures were not included in a March 2004 USDA document estimating the number of animals most likely to be infected among U.S. herds, and apparently were not given to a congressional committee that had requested agency data on the number of cows with brain disorder signs that had been tested for the disease.

"This is just adding to the demise of USDA's credibility," said Felicia Nestor, senior policy adviser to the Government Accountability Project, a group in Washington, D.C., that works with federal whistleblowers.

"If the USDA is going to exclude from testing the animals most likely to have the disease, that would seem to have a very negative impact on the reliability of their conclusion," Nestor told UPI.

Nestor, who has monitored the USDA's mad cow surveillance program closely for several years, asked, "Are they deliberately avoiding testing animals that look like they have the disease?"

Concerns about the number of cows in U.S. herds with brain disorder symptoms have been heightened due to the recent case in Texas, in which USDA officials failed to test an animal with such symptoms, also known as central nervous system or CNS signs. This was a violation of USDA policy, which stipulates all CNS cows should be tested because they are considered the most likely to be mad cow infected. To date, the Washington cow that tested positive last December is the only confirmed case of mad cow disease -- also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- among U.S. herds.

The Texas incident has alarmed the public and members of Congress because humans can contract a fatal brain disorder called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from consuming meat infected with the mad cow pathogen. If the USDA's surveillance program is allowing the riskiest cows to go untested, it raises concerns about the ability of the monitoring system to detect the disease reliably in U.S. herds, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., charged in a May 13 letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

Dr. Peter Lurie, of the consumer group Public Citizen, said CNS cows should be the one category that absolutely has to be tested to have a sound surveillance system.

"CNS animals are far and away the most important animals to test," said Lurie, who has done several analyses of the USDA's mad cow surveillance program.

"If there's any category that needs 100 percent testing, that's it, because they would be the most likely place to find mad cow in America," he told UPI. "Any CNS cow that slips into the food supply represents a major case of malpractice by USDA, and similarly, the failure to test the brain of that animal to see if it was indeed infected is really a failure to protect the public."

USDA officials said the agency has no estimate on how many CNS cows occur in U.S. herds. But spokesman Ed Loyd has told UPI, and at least one other media outlet, that 500 CNS cows were tested in fiscal year 2003. Yet agency testing records for the first 10 months of FY 2003, obtained by UPI under the Freedom of Information Act, show only 254 animals that fall under the CNS category -- or about half the number Loyd cited.

After failing to respond to repeated requests from UPI for clarification of the apparent discrepancy, Loyd finally offered the explanation that an additional 45 CNS cows were tested by the USDA during the final two months of FY 2003. The remainder, he said, was made up by CNS cases tested at various state veterinary diagnostic laboratories.

"We also include data reported to us from state veterinary diagnostic laboratories, and all of these are CNS cases that have been tested for BSE using a histological examination," Loyd said.

"We were not using any other labs during this period, other than (the USDA lab), to run the IHC tests for BSE, which is the gold standard," he said. "This (state laboratory) information contributes important data to our surveillance effort."

However, the state labs did not use the immunohistochemistry test, which the USDA has called the "gold standard" for diagnosing mad cow disease. Instead, the labs used a different test called histopathology, which the USDA itself does not use to confirm a case, opting instead for the more sensitive IHC test.

The histopathology test, unlike the IHC test, does not detect prions -- misfolded proteins that serve as a marker for infection and can be spotted early on in the course of the illness. Rather, it screens for the microscopic holes in the brain that are characteristic of advanced mad cow disease.

According to the USDA's Web site, histopathology proves reliable only if the brain sample is removed soon after the death of the animal. If there is too much of a delay, the Web site states, it can be "very difficult to confirm a diagnosis by histopathology" because the brain structures may have begun to disintegrate.

That is one reason the agency began using the IHC test -- it can confirm a diagnosis if the brain has begun disintegrating or been frozen for shipping.

The state labs used histopathology to screen 266 CNS cases in FY 2003, as well as 257 cases in FY 2002, according to Loyd. He did not explain why this information was not included in the testing records the agency provided to UPI and has not responded to requests for the identity of the state labs.

Linda Detwiler, a former USDA veterinarian who oversaw the agency's mad cow testing program, told UPI the histopathology test probably is adequate for screening CNS cows. If they have mad cow disease, she said, it would likely be an advanced stage that should be obvious.

Other mad cow disease experts, however, said having a back-up test such as IHC would be advisable, because histopathology tests sometimes can miss evidence of infection.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations offers similar recommendations in its protocol for conducing a histopathology test. The protocol states that even if histopathology is negative, "further sampling should be undertaken" in cases "where clinical signs have strongly suggested BSE" -- a criteria that includes all of the cows tested at the state labs.

The USDA seems to agree on the need for a back-up test. Its expanded surveillance program, which began June 1, calls for using IHC -- or another test called Western blot -- to confirm any positives found on rapid tests. The March 15 document that describes the new program does not mention using histopathology to confirm cases of mad cow disease.

"Subtle changes can be missed on histopathology that would probably not be as easy to miss using IHC," said Elizabeth Mumford, a veterinarian and BSE expert at Safe Food Solutions in Bern, Switzerland, a company that provides advice on reducing mad cow risk to industry and governments.

"Therefore I believe it is valuable to run (histopathology)," Mumford told UPI.

She noted that in Europe, two tests -- neither one the histopathology test -- are used to ensure no cases are missed. A rapid test is used initially for screening, followed by IHC as a confirmatory test.

Markus Moser, a molecular biologist and chief executive officer of the Swiss firm Prionics, which manufactures tests for detecting mad cow disease, agrees about the possibility of a case being missed by histopathology.

"There were cases which were (histopathology) negative but still clearly positive with the other (testing) methods," Moser said. "BSE testing based on histology on sub-optimal tissue was probably one of the reasons why Germany was allegedly BSE-free until our test discovered that they were not" in 2000, Moser told UPI.

He agreed with Detwiler that histopathology should be suitable for most cases of CNS cows, but added it still can fail to detect the disease in some CNS cases -- particularly if the sample is not optimum.

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the subtle changes in a diseased brain from artifacts like ruptures in the tissue due to tissue damage during the sampling, transport or preparation," he said.

Loyd asserted the additional CNS cases from the state labs actually yielded a total of 565 such cows the USDA had tested -- 65 more than his original figure of 500. Whether the USDA considers its total to be 500 or 565, however, either figure would exceed the agency's own estimates for the total number of such cows that it identifies annually.

According to data the USDA provided to the House Committee on Government Reform, and numbers the agency included in the March document about its expanded surveillance plan, only 201 to 249 CNS cows are identified at slaughterhouses. Approximately 129 additional cases occur on farms annually. At most, that yields a combined total of 378 CNS cows, or nearly 200 less than the 565 Loyd claims the agency tested.

The USDA surveillance plan document makes no mention of the number of CNS animals tested at state veterinary diagnostic labs. The figure also does not appear to be included in the agency's estimates of the number of high-risk animals that occur in the United States each year. The latter number was used to help the USDA calculate the number of animals it will screen for mad cow disease in its expanded surveillance plan.

USDA officials also did not include the state lab figures in response to a question from the House Committee on Government Reform, a source close to the issue told UPI. The committee, on which Waxman is the ranking Democrat, had requested in a March 8 letter to Veneman that she provide "the number of BSE tests that were conducted on cattle exhibiting central nervous system symptoms" for each of the last five years.

Loyd did not respond to a request from UPI asking why agency officials did not provide that information to the committee or include it in USDA's explanation of its expanded surveillance plan.

The committee has taken note of the CNS issue and plans to delve into it further in a hearing slated for sometime in the next few months.

"The committee will explore this and other issues surrounding USDA and BSE testing at a hearing later this summer," Drew Crockett, spokesman for the committee, told UPI.

--

Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail sciencemail@upi.com

Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20040608-014607-3865r

IN FACT, i must bring this up again.
IN TEXAS, when they are really worried about a mad cow,
when the cow is clinical and stumbling and staggering, TEXAS
does not bother TESTING the cow at all. nope, they just send
it directly to be rendered head and all to get rid of all evidence.
the june 2004 enhanced bse cover-up was just that. the USA
could test every cow that goes to slaughter, and it would be meaningless
unless properly done with the most sensitive testing to date.
but not in TEXAS or any other state in the USA.............


FDA Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement
May 4, 2004

Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA


Statement on Texas Cow With Central Nervous System Symptoms

On Friday, April 30 th , the Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed.

FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse.

FDA's investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into "meat and bone meal" (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.

Cattle with central nervous system symptoms are of particular interest because cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, also known as "mad cow disease," can exhibit such symptoms. In this case, there is no way now to test for BSE. But even if the cow had BSE, FDA's animal feed rule would prohibit the feeding of its rendered protein to other ruminant animals (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, bison).

FDA is sending a letter to the firm summarizing its findings and informing the firm that FDA will not object to use of this material in swine feed only. If it is not used in swine feed, this material will be destroyed. Pigs have been shown not to be susceptible to BSE. If the firm agrees to use the material for swine feed only, FDA will track the material all the way through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is properly monitored and used only as feed for pigs.

To protect the U.S. against BSE, FDA works to keep certain mammalian protein out of animal feed for cattle and other ruminant animals. FDA established its animal feed rule in 1997 after the BSE epidemic in the U.K. showed that the disease spreads by feeding infected ruminant protein to cattle.

Under the current regulation, the material from this Texas cow is not allowed in feed for cattle or other ruminant animals. FDA's action specifying that the material go only into swine feed means also that it will not be fed to poultry.

FDA is committed to protecting the U.S. from BSE and collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on all BSE issues. The animal feed rule provides crucial protection against the spread of BSE, but it is only one of several such firewalls. FDA will soon be improving the animal feed rule, to make this strong system even stronger.

####

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01061.html

TSS

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
P.O. Box 42
Bacliff, Texas USA




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