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From: TSS ()
Subject: Second case of mad cow disease found in U.S. Meat that tested positive said to be from Texas
Date: June 25, 2005 at 6:41 am PST

June 25, 2005, 12:55AM

Second case of mad cow disease found in U.S.
Meat that tested positive said to be from Texas, but no beef thought to be in the food supply

By PURVA PATEL
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

RESOURCES

AP file
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns tours a Utah beef processing plant in May.


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Multimedia:
• The connection between mad cow disease and humans
(Requires Flash plug-in)

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Phone hot lines:
• USDA meat and poultry hot line: 1-888-674-6854
• Regular updates at 1-866-4USDACO.

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Other:
• USDA news release on BSE finding 6/24
• Active USDA meat recalls
• Overview of the disease

The U.S. government confirmed a second case of mad cow disease in the U.S. on Friday, triggering changes in testing and potentially doing short-term damage to the nation's $37.8 billion cattle industry.

Meat from the cow never made it into human food or animal feed supplies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

"Because of our safeguards in place, the animal did not get anywhere near the human food chain," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "What we are pursuing is a better understanding of what we were dealing with. There's always an opportunity to improve protocol and improve science."

Humans who eat infected beef can develop a variant of the brain-wasting mad cow disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., a longtime critic of the USDA's handling of the mad cow problem, called for a congressional investigation into how the case nearly escaped detection by the agriculture department.

"The administration's response to mad cow disease appears to be more public relations than public health," he said. "The Agriculture Department now says it's taking aggressive steps, but just a few weeks ago the department was talking about easing the ban on downer cattle in the food supply and sharply reducing mad cow surveillance."

Johanns said he has directed USDA scientists to develop new protocols on handling inconclusive screening tests for the disease, how suspicious carcasses are stored during testing, and the completion of formal paperwork reporting test results.

The government is still investigating where the cow with the disease originated, though there is no sign of it being imported, he said.

In December 2003, the nation's first case of mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state.

That animal, it turned out, was imported from Canada.

The recent case — reportedly discovered in Texas — was found in November. As a "downer" that couldn't walk, it was considered high risk.

Initial tests came back inconclusive, but two more tests using a more sophisticated method indicated the cow was free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.

The USDA's inspector general requested further testing earlier this month. That test, widely used in Europe and known as the "Western blot," came back positive.

Samples were then sent to a lab in Weybridge, England, which confirmed the results.

Texas cattlemen insisted the state's beef supply is safe despite Friday's announcement.

"We can at least move forward. For the most part the firewalls have worked," said Shane Sklar, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen's Association of Texas. "We would have liked better protocols at the USDA earlier. We hope everybody's learned a lesson here for clarity and tranparency's sake."

In Texas, cattle is a $5.6 billion industry.

Disclosure of the case and new safeguards will likely impact cattle markets next week, said Richard Wortham, executive vice president of the Texas Beef Council.

On Friday, cattle prices closed up 7 cents a pound. Trading ended before the announcement.

"The cattle market is just like the stock market — it doesn't like uncertainty. These types of issues certainly create volatility in our market. Most likely, you will see something happen on Monday. To what degree, I wouldn't know," he said.

Analysts don't expect long-term fallout for cattle markets or U.S. demand.

"I think the cattle futures market will probably open lower on Monday, possibly 100 points or more, but more because of general confusion than real nervousness about consumer demand," said John Harrington, a livestock analyst with market research firm DTN.

"We've had mad cow scares since 2003 starting in Canada and really have not seen a real negative reaction to this disease by U.S. consumers because they see it as a very rare situation," Harrington said.

But the ramifications could be more serious for U.S. beef producers who have been struggling to reopen foreign markets closed to them after the first mad cow scare.

The government has been working to restore beef trade with key export markets like Japan and South Korea.

"This probably doesn't help that effort," Harrington said. "Not that it was on the fast track, but it may put it on an even slower track, especially with the agriculture secretary calling for new protocols. All that takes time. It postpones the rehabilitation of the export trade."

Bill Bullard, chief executive of R-Calf USA, a cattle group that has been critical of the department's mad cow testing program, renewed calls for more testing and stricter safeguards against mad cow.

"This signals the need to strengthen our BSE resistance and the fact that we shouldn't lower any of the standards that continue to protect against the introduction of the disease from other countries," Bullard said.

"Additional tests will enable us and markets we export to to have a higher level of confidence that we can know scientifically if this case is the only one."

purva.patel@chron.com

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3240423

June 25, 2005, 1:24AM


QUESTION AND ANSWER
Risk of contracting the disease 'extremely low'
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle


Q: What is mad cow disease?

A: Mad cow disease is the nickname for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) , a progressive neurological disorder of cattle that results from infection by a transmissible agent. The nature of the transmissible agent is unknown.

RESOURCES
TESTING TIMELINE


• Nov. 18: Cow tests "inconclusive" twice for mad cow disease using rapid screening kits. More sophisticated test ordered.
• Nov. 23: Cow tests negative after two immunohistochemistry, or IHC tests. Officials say animal is free of mad cow disease.
• Week of June 5: USDA's inspector general recommends retesting cow, using the Western blot test, which is widely used in Europe.
• June 10: Cow tests positive using the Western blot test.
• June 16: USDA official sends brain samples to Weybridge, England, for further confirmation.
• June 24: USDA announces confirmation of second mad cow case in the United States

Source: Reuters News Service
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CHANGES IN TESTING

This most recent mad cow case has prompted the following testing changes:
• The U.S. will begin using two different tests if a rapid screening tests suggests an animal may have mad cow disease.
• Test methods, including what antibodies are used, will be reviewed by a panel of scientists from Weybridge, England, and USDA officials.
• Supervisors in the animal testing service will spot-check to make sure paperwork is done properly.
• Procedures will be reviewed to ensure tissue from animals beings tested are kept separate, and samples are kept at the proper temperature.

Source: USDA
Q: Is mad cow disease a foodborne hazard?

A: Strong evidence suggests that BSE has been transmitted to humans, killing more than 150 people, mostly in Britain. Technically speaking, the disease people get isn't mad cow disease but a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) known as vCJD.

Q: What's the difference between CJD and vCJD?

A: Both diseases cause dementia and death, and both leave holes in the brain. Classic CJD, which has no known cause, annually kills about six Texans, mostly elderly. Mostly younger people are affected by vCJD, which causes different psychiatric and sensory symptoms. The only U.S. case occurred in a 22-year-old Florida woman who lived in Britain before moving here.

Q: Has mad cow disease occurred before in the United States?

A: Yes. The first case was confirmed in December 2003. It turned up in Washington state in a dairy cow imported from Canada. It was born before the United States banned cattle parts in cattle feed, the way the diseased is believed to spread.

Q: What is the state of U.S. surveillance of mad cow disease?

A: Since the first case, U.S. officials have stepped up testing for the disease. More than 388,000 dead cattle have been screened in the past 18 months, compared with about 2,000 screenings annually before then.

Q: What is the risk of getting mad cow disease in the United States by eating beef?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regards the risk as "extremely low." The risk appears proportionate to the number of infected cows in a particular country, which is why England, with more than 183,000 cases of BSE in more than 35,000 herds, has seen the most human cases. In the United States, now with two infected cows, food-borne infections caused by bacteria such as salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli are a much greater threat. They kill 5,000 people a year.

Q: What is the risk from milk products?

A: Milk products from cows are not believed to pose any risk for transmitting the BSE agent.

Q: Are certain cow parts more dangerous than others?

A: The brain, used in some Mexican dishes and viewed as a delicacy in various parts of the world, and the spinal cord are the most dangerous parts of an infected cow. Steaks and roasts from an infected cow carry far less risk, though that risk may not be zero.

Q: What symptoms suggest mad cow disease?

A: Symptoms include rapidly progressing dementia, tremors, limb paralysis, blindness and loss of ability to speak or understand words.

Q: What's the incubation period in humans?

A: The disease may incubate for six to 10 years, but once a person shows symptoms, decline is rapid and death usually occurs in one year.

SOURCE: Chronicle research and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/3240771

TSS




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