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From: TSS ()
Subject: BSE Update: US Officials Expect BSE Test Results As Early As Friday
Date: June 22, 2005 at 8:24 pm PST

BSE Update: US Officials Expect BSE Test Results As Early As Friday

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Tests to confirm whether a U.S. cow was infected with mad-cow disease should be finished soon, perhaps as early as Friday, government officials said Wednesday.

The tests on brain samples from the cow are being done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and at a U.K. government laboratory.

Danny Matthew, head of mad-cow disease research at the testing laboratory in Weybridge, England, told Dow Jones Newswires on Wednesday that scientists there are on schedule to finish the testing the U.S. asked for by Friday.

USDA Undersecretary J.B. Penn was quoted Wednesday by the agency's radio service saying he expects to get the results from England this week, or possibly early next week.

U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Ed Loyd said he expects to make results from USDA confirmatory testing public at the same time as the results from England.

The Weybridge laboratory belongs to England's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or DEFRA, and it is the top European reference laboratory used by the World Organization for Animal Health.

On June 10, the USDA said that a cow's brain that tested negative for mad-cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in November 2004, tested positive when a different test was used. Because of the mixed results, the USDA decided confirmatory tests needed to be run at U.S. and U.K. labs.

USDA officials have called the brain samples that produced mixed results "unique" and possibly evidence that an "atypical" form of the disease was involved.

But Matthew said that may not be the case.

"I think everyone's trying to over-interpret what's happening so far," he said. "They've had a little inconsistency in the way this sample has behaved which leads them to believe that possibly it may be different, but it's far too

premature to say that at the moment."

USDA veterinarian John Clifford said in a June 10 teleconference with reporters that scientists used a Western blot method to retest the suspect sample that had registered as a negative in November under the

Immunohisto chemistry, or IHC, test.

The Western blot test produced a "weak positive," Clifford said, and additional testing in the U.S. and U.K. would be needed to "confirm one way or another whether this is truly BSE or not."

Gary Weber, director of regulatory affairs for the U.S.-based National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said Wednesday it is possible that the Western blot test the USDA used "could get a false-positive." And until the

confirmatory results come back from the DEFRA laboratory in England and the USDA, he stressed that "there is absolutely no evidence that this is anything other than a...false positive."

DEFRA's Matthew said that USDA's different results from its BSE tests may have more to do with the quality of the samples being studied than the effectiveness of the tests.

That situation, he said, isn't uncommon. "There can be variations in the amount of abnormal prions in the brain stem and you could take one sample that's got enough in it and another sample that hasn't got enough.... If you can't confirm your initial result by applying a second test then it's good practice to try a third."

Source: Dow Jones

http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=5440

TSS




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