Document Directory

14 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE risk per steak 'is 20 times greater in France'
14 Dec 00 - CJD - Scientist suggests French BSE since 1987
14 Dec 00 - CJD - Meat checks blow
14 Dec 00 - CJD - Deaths prompt fears of new CJD cluster
14 Dec 00 - CJD - 'Higher BSE risk' in European products
14 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD Victims Lived 200 Yards Apart
14 Dec 00 - CJD - New CJD tests development
14 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD cluster fears after two deaths in one town
13 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD mum may not have died in vain
13 Dec 00 - CJD - France steps up BSE tests
13 Dec 00 - CJD - British beef 'safer than French'
13 Dec 00 - CJD - Alarm at Spread of CJD After Death of South African Woman
13 Dec 00 - CJD - UK Scientist Estimates Scale of French BSE Crisis
12 Dec 00 - CJD - Minister Says South Africa Is Free Of Mad Cow Disease
12 Dec 00 - CJD - Japan Nixes Foreign Animals
12 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow scare, Japan bans animal products in medicine, cosmetics
12 Dec 00 - CJD - Japan Jumps On Anti-Mad Cow Wagon
12 Dec 00 - CJD - Europe Tries To Assure Beef Is Safe
12 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease Said the Cause of Ukraine Cattle Deaths
11 Dec 00 - CJD - Study finds more French BSE cases
11 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE contaminated cattle feed exported for eight years after UK ban
11 Dec 00 - CJD - South African woman may have died from Mad Cow disease
11 Dec 00 - CJD - Animal feed suspected in South African CJD case
11 Dec 00 - CJD - France to Remove Injured Cattle from Food Chain
11 Dec 00 - CJD - Alarm at spread of CJD
10 Dec 00 - CJD - Ukraine Records 2 Mad Cow Cases
10 Dec 00 - CJD - Poland to Ban Meat and Bone Meal From Five EU Countries
10 Dec 00 - CJD - Deaths linked to Mad Cow disease
10 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow disease may be extraterrestrial



14 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE risk per steak 'is 20 times greater in France'

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

Telegraph ... Thursday 14 December 2000


The risk of eating a steak infected with BSE could be up to 20 times greater in France than in Britain , an estimate that will renew calls for a tit-for-tat ban on imports of French beef.

The risk has been reduced virtually to zero in Britain by controls, notably that cattle slaughtered for human consumption are restricted to those under 30 months old . The Food Standards Agency admitted yesterday that around 20 per cent of planned beef imports were found to have inadequate paperwork to prove the meat was under 30 months.

But it ruled out a ban on imports from France and said the risk to consumers was probably greater from meat products containing beef because it was difficult to ascertain the age of their contents. However, the risk was slight and "in the range of acceptable risk".

To assess the danger posed by French beef, Dr Christl Donnelly of Imperial College analysed BSE-incidence data from the French ministry of agriculture, combined with information from the epidemic in Britain. Dr Donnelly reports today in Nature that at least 1,200 French cattle have been infected with the agent that causes BSE since mid-1987.

If the French report every case, she estimates that 49 infected animals will have been slaughtered for human consumption . However, if there was under-reporting, the figure rises to 100 BSE infected animals. The latter seems more likely, and produces a better fit with the known data, says Dr Donnelly.

The risk of BSE entering the food chain from British beef has been markedly reduced now slaughtered cattle are restricted to those under 30 months old, but more late-stage infected animals are likely to have been slaughtered for meat this year in France, where there was no age restriction.

Dr Donnelly focused on the most infectious cattle, those within one year of the onset of symptoms, and estimated France had, at most, 52 such animals slaughtered. The equivalent figure in Britain is 1.2. The French herd is approximately double that in Britain, so the "per steak risk" is about 20 times greater in France.

Tim Yeo, shadow agriculture minister, said yesterday that consumers would be surprised to learn that beef over 30 months old could be imported in processed products. The Food Standards Agency should return to France to carry out checks.


14 Dec 00 - CJD - Scientist suggests French BSE since 1987

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Thursday 14 December 2000


New research suggests that the problem of BSE, or Mad Cow disease, in France is far more serious than officially admitted .

The research published in the journal, Nature, by a scientist Dr Christle Donnelly of Imperial College in London, says that since 1987 at least twelve-hundred French cattle have been infected with BSE.

But it says there is no evidence to suggest that the problem in France will reach the scale of that in Britain where nearly two-hundred-thousand cases were reported.

Concern about the disease in European countries and its possible link to a human form of the disease led recently to much stricter controls on animal feed. France banned the inclusion of cows' brains and spinal cords in meat and animal feed in 1996, though as the BBC science correspondent says, it's too soon to say whether this has reduced the spread of BSE in France.


14 Dec 00 - CJD - Meat checks blow

Staff Reporter

Times ... Thursday 14 December 2000


Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said that checks set up over fears of BSE contamination from imported French meat showed that a fifth of meat from the continent was failing document controls .


14 Dec 00 - CJD - Deaths prompt fears of new CJD cluster

James Meikle and Helen Carter

Guardian ... Thursday 14 December 2000


Health officials are investigating a possible link between the deaths of two men from the human form of BSE.

Steven Lunt, 34, and Paul Dickens, 28, one of the latest victims believed to have died from variant CJD, both lived in Adswood, Stockport, Greater Manchester . Their proximity is bound to raise fears of a new "cluster" such as those already being examined in Leicestershire. There have been five victims in the county, four with links to the village of Queniborough, and three victims from Armthorpe, near Doncaster, south Yorkshire.

The Leicestershire investigation is concentrating on the preparation and sale of meat products locally in the 1980s. But although infected beef is prime suspect for the entire vCJD epidemic, there is still no proof.

A total of 82 Britons died from the condition, five more victims face death, and numbers are still rising.

Mr Lunt, from Melrose Crescent, died in April, but experts from the CJD surveillance unit in Edinburgh still have to confirm whether Mr Dickens, from nearby Bexhill Road, was another victim. His widow, Melanie, said her football-loving husband had a burger every Sunday before playing for Hillgate Spartans.

"My son and I no longer eat meat now. It is not worth it. Paul lived for playing football and watching our nine-year-old, Jordan, play himself. He was an athletic man and a brilliant husband."

David Baxter, the local health authority's consultant in communicable disease control, said: "I understand there is fear but there is not much evidence at the moment these fears are justified. There is bound to be local concern because they lived so close together."

Meanwhile consumers were warned yesterday by the food standards agency that beef products such as corned beef, salami and pate from France and other BSE-infected countries were more risky to eat than carcass meat .

But the agency said there was no justification for a ban as they revealed the results of early spot checks indicating that 20% of all beef entering Britain lacked the necessary paperwork on age of cattle or country of origin . Such beef or beef products should not be offered for sale, although it would only press local authorities to prosecute where there seemed evidence of fraud.

Sir John Krebs, chairman of the agency, said consumers could make up their own minds as to whether they chose to eat imported products or eat beef while in France, despite new figures suggesting that the risk of humans being infected across the Channel is now greater than in this country.

A ban on risky offals, introduced in Britain in 1989, and the exclusion of nearly all cattle over 30 months old from food, introduced here since 1996, have reduced the danger from homegrown cattle.

Imported carcass meat has to follow the same 30-month rule, but meat in processed products does not yet. Around 2,400 tonnes of the 5, 570 tonnes of beef and beef products imported from France was in corned beef form.

Sir John insisted that "on current evidence the risk posed by French and British steaks sold in the UK are comparable". When it came to meat products, "I would simply say we cannot be as confident about risk levels as we are with carcass meat".

The agency does not want another political rumpus similar to the beef-on-the-bone ban. It argued that France too has banned risky offals since 1996 and the introduction soon of the 30-month rule across the rest of Europe, unless carcasses are tested BSE-free, will further reduce risk.


14 Dec 00 - CJD - 'Higher BSE risk' in European products

By Steve Connor and Charles Arthur

Independent ... Thursday 14 December 2000


Pate and corned beef imports from the Continent could carry a higher risk of being infected with BSE, or Mad Cow disease, than products made in Britain because of a loophole in food regulations , the Food Standards Agency has said.

The FSA is discussing import controls covering "meat products". These are exempt from controls banning meat from cattle more than 30 months old being used in food in Britain.

Sir John Krebs, head of the FSA, said there was no case to ban such foods, but urged consumers to ask retailers where products had come from and then decide whether to buy them. "We can't take immediate action to force manufacturers to label them, because that is something which has to come from the European Commission. But from 1 January, only beef from animals under 30 months old can be used for food anywhere in Europe."

That will close the loophole, but products can have shelf lives of months or years, so potentially infective food could be on sale long after Europe-wide rules are in force.

The assessment is based on research showing the French have slaughtered about 100 BSE-infected cows for human food this year . Of those, 52 would have been killed within a year of showing the first signs of BSE. In Britain only one or two cattle killed for human consumption this year would have been within a year of showing symptoms. The study, by Christl Donnelly of Imperial College, London, is published today in the journal Nature.


14 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD Victims Lived 200 Yards Apart

Staff Reporter

Mirror ... Thursday 14 December 2000


New 'Mad Cow' cluster feared

Two men who lived 200 yards apart have died from the human form of Mad Cow disease.

Now health chiefs are investigating a possible cluster of CJD cases at Stockport , Greater Manchester. An inquest will be held next week on Steven Lunt, 34, who died in April.

As Steven's life ebbed away, another man's family a few streets away were worried about his deteriorating health.

Paul Dickens, 28, from Bexhill Road, had the same symptoms - memory lapses and loss of co-ordination - as his near neighbour in Melrose Crescent.

Paul's wife Melanie believes his love of fast food may have cost him his life.

Car sprayer Paul used to have a hamburger with his team-mates every Sunday before playing football.

Melanie, 27, said: "He lived for playing football and watching our son Jordan play himself. He was an athletic husband and a brilliant dad."

She added: "My son and I no longer eat meat. It's not worth it."

Paul learned in June that he had CJD. He died last month.

He and Melanie were teenage sweethearts but only got married five months ago.

Melanie said nine-year-old Jordan did not understand how his father died. "To him it is through cows," she said. "It helps him that Paul's friends come around."

Dr David Baxter, Stockport's consultant in communicable disease control, said Steven Lunt's death was a confirmed case of CJD while experts were still investigating Paul's case.

Clusters of the disease have been found in Leicester, where five cases have been linked, and Armthorpe, Doncaster, with three cases.

Frances Hall, of the Human BSE Foundation, a support group for the families of victims, said: "We all buy our food from common sources and sadly it's only a matter of time before we see more of this happening."


14 Dec 00 - CJD - New CJD tests development

SOURCE: Paradigm Genetics, Inc.

Press Release ... Thursday 14 December 2000


Paradigm Genetics and Prionics Extend Collaborative Agreement to Develop New Tests for Rapid Detection of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in Humans and 'Mad Cow Disease' in Cattle

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., and ZURICH, Switzerland, Dec. 14

/PRNewswire/ -- Paradigm Genetics, Inc. (Nasdaq: PDGM - news), a functional genomics company, and Prionics AG of Switzerland, have extended a collaborative agreement to co-develop and co-market innovative blood-based diagnostics for the rapid detection of Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as Mad Cow Disease) in cattle. These blood-based diagnostics could be used to pre-symptomatically detect the diseases in both humans and cattle. Both parties will continue to share development costs and Paradigm will receive a royalty on any product(s) developed as a result of the collaboration.

Paradigm brings to the collaboration its technological expertise and resources required to design and develop novel assays through to product development. Specifically, Paradigm contributes its vast knowledge and experience in the development of rapid, high-throughput testing techniques that can be performed within and outside the research laboratory. In addition, Paradigm will assist with validation and clinical trials of the diagnostics resulting from the collaboration. Prionics provides proprietary immunological reagents and expertise in the field of prion diseases, jointly described as TSEs (transmissable spongiform encephalitis).

``The recent detection of BSE in France and Germany through the use of Prionics(r)-Check confirms the need for faster, better tests to detect disease during the pre-symptomatic stages. The ability to test for the presence of prions in blood would be a major step forward in developing a rapid, reliable and simple detection assay. We believe it is possible to develop an effective diagnostic that uses whole blood samples rather than brain and spinal cord tissue that has been taken after the patient has died or the animal sacrificed,'' said Sandy Stewart, Paradigm's Director of Biochemistry. ``We are making significant progress in developing a rapid and high-throughput test format using Prionics' immunological reagents to increase prion detection sensitivity, reduce incubation time, and allow testing of blood instead of tissues for the pre-symptomatic detection of the diseases.''

``We are very excited to extend our collaboration with Paradigm Genetics because of their outstanding expertise in high-throughput screening technologies and vast knowledge in developing immunoassays,'' said Bruno Oesch, Chairman of Prionics.

Development of animal and human diagnostic products is still in the early stages.

Prionics has pioneered prion diagnostics and markets Prionics(r)-Check, the European Union-approved test for BSE-surveillance that is broadly used in France, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italy, Finland and Germany. Prionics has developed proprietary antibodies that recognize and differentiate a normal prion protein from a disease-specific prion protein. The European Commission confirmed the current Prionics test to be 100% specific and sensitive in detecting diseased animals.

Prion Diseases

Prion diseases are infectious diseases of the brain and occur both in animals and people. The disease is given a different name according to the species, such as scrapie in sheep, BSE in cattle, and CWD (chronic wasting disease) in deer and elk. Prion diseases appear to be transmissible between certain species but not between others and bring about the slow degeneration of the central nervous system, which inevitably leads to death. A very long period of time elapses between infection and the appearance of the first clinical symptoms: typically two to four years in sheep, three to six years in cattle and more than 10 years in humans. Once the symptoms have appeared, the disease often leads to death within only a few months. CJD in humans mostly occurs sporadically with unknown origin or as genetic disease linked to a mutation in the gene coding for the prion protein. More than 80 cases of a new variant form of CJD have been observed in the United Kingdom and France, possibly caused by transmission of BSE to humans.

About Prionics AG

Prionics AG is based in Zurich, Switzerland and was founded by Drs. Bruno Oesch, Markus Moser and Carsten Korth to exploit their prion detection system. Prionics AG is now a recognized leader in the development of diagnostics for the detection of prion diseases. Prionics(r)-Check is now the most widely used test for BSE surveillance in Europe. Additional information about Prionics can be found at http://www.prionics.ch.

About Paradigm Genetics

Headquartered in Research Triangle Park, NC, Paradigm Genetics, Inc. is industrializing the process of gene function discovery for four major sectors of the global economy: human health, nutrition, crop production, and industrial products. The company has designed the GeneFunction Factory(TM) - an integrated, rapid, industrial-scale laboratory through which it discovers gene function. Paradigm and its strategic partners intend to develop novel products using information developed with the GeneFunction Factory(TM). Paradigm's GeneFunction Factory(TM) is based on a state of the art phenomics platform integrated with metabolic profiling and gene expression profiling technologies. The backbone of the GeneFunction Factory(TM) is the company's proprietary FunctionFinder(TM) bioinformatics system, used to collect, store, analyze, and retrieve information. For more information visit www.paragen.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the prospects of Paradigm and Prionics to develop blood- based diagnostics for CJD and BSE; Paradigm's ability to successfully develop its GeneFunction Factory(TM) and other technologies; Paradigm's ability to industrialize the process of gene function discovery for four major sectors of the global economy: human health, nutrition, crop production, and industrial products; the prospects of Paradigm and its partners to develop products; Paradigm's prospects for receiving milestone payments and royalties pursuant to its agreement with Bayer; Paradigm's herbicide target discovery goals and intellectual property goals; as well as Paradigm's prospects for growth and innovation. Such statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to a number of risks, factors and uncertainties that may cause actual results, events and performance to differ materially from those referred to in the forward-looking statements. These risks include, but are not limited to, Paradigm's early stage of development, history of net losses, technological and product development uncertainties, reliance on research collaborations, uncertainty of additional funding and ability to protect its patents and proprietary rights. These and other risks are identified in Paradigm's report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2000, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

GeneFunction Factory(TM) and FunctionFinder(TM) are U.S. trademarks of Paradigm Genetics, Inc.

SOURCE: Paradigm Genetics, Inc.


14 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD cluster fears after two deaths in one town

By Ian Herbert, Northern Correspondent

Independent ... Thursday 14 December 2000


Health officers are investigating a Stockport community after the death of two neighbours from the human form of Mad Cow disease.

The premature deaths of the two young men is the latest in a growing number of vCJD clusters across Britain. Investigators hope that by identifying these localised clusters they will be able to isolate the original sources of the infection.

Environmental health officers have launched a vigorous investigation of current and former local butchers, who might have slaughtered their own meat and could therefore be a source of infected food. The emergence of isolated clusters of victims has led health officers to believe they are dealing with separate sources of infection.

The latest death of a 28 -year-old father from Stockport, Greater Manchester, who lived just two streets away from a 34 -year-old man who died in April, has left the town's Adswood suburb casting around hopelessly for explanations.

Yesterday the BSE Foundation, a support group for victims' families, said the latest cluster reflected a pattern that would become more pronounced as further victims were diagnosed. "We all buy our food from common sources and it's only a matter of time before we see more places where this is happening," it said.

The experience of this Stockport housing estate reflects that of Armthorpe , a mining village near Doncaster, south Yorkshire; Ashford, Kent; and the Leicestershire village of Queniborough as sites of clusters of victims of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

As Steven Luntlay dying of the disease in Adswood last Christmas, Paul Dickens, a garage spray-painter and father of a boy of nine, was becoming increasingly withdrawn, struggled to get upstairs - though he was a good local footballer - and could not carry a cup of tea. In May, he lost control of his car, ended up on a pavement and subsequently stopped driving.

Mr Dickens was seen by doctors at Manchester Royal Infirmary the following month but was already deteriorating so rapidly by then that he had forgotten the doctors' grim prognosis within 24 hours.

He died in November - the same month in which he had planned to marry Melanie, 27, his fiancée and partner of 12 years. The ceremony had to be brought forward to August. An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned.

Mrs Dickens' only notion yesterday was that her husband may have been killed by the hamburgers he ate with friends in Stockport before playing for the local Hillgate Spartans football team each week.

"Little things started to get bad for him - his balance and his memory," she said. "He tried to carry on playing football but his balance was too bad.

"Our child does not understand. He doesn't know why this could have happened now."

Mr Lunt was diagnosed with vCJD last September and died in April. "It has been a heartbreaking thing to have to go through," said his mother.

Dr David Baxter, Stockport's consultant in communicable disease control, called for calm, reminding locals that only two out of 87 cases nationwide had been found in Stockport. "I can understand there is fear but there is not much evidence at the moment that these fears are justified," he said.

But while the Edinburgh vCJD unit analyses the cases, locals in Adswood remain worried and perplexed .


13 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD mum may not have died in vain

by Andrew Bellard

Lancashire Evening Telegraph ... Wednesday 13 December 2000


A mother who was the first person in East Lancashire to die from variant CJD could help scientists find the key to treating and preventing the disease.

A coroner yesterday confirmed that Accrington mother Anita Maria Bradshaw died of the human form of Mad Cow disease and revealed that the death could help improve understanding of the condition.

The 30-year-old had the gene which has been identified in many of the victims of Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) and could provide a vital link for doctors and scientists.

Recording a verdict of natural causes, Mr Singleton said it was difficult to imagine what Mr Bradshaw and his family had gone through. But he added: "Clearly the hope is that as a result of your wife's death we can get a better understanding of CJD and try to be able to be absolutely certain that in future nobody has to go through what you and your wife had to go through." Mrs Bradshaw died in July, 12 months after she was first taken ill but only six months after suspected CJD was originally diagnosed.

Today, Department of Health officials confirmed that Mrs Bradshaw was the 82nd victim of new variant CJD (vCJD), the human form of Mad Cow disease, since records on the infection started to be collected on the fatal infection 15 years ago.

While the department refuses to put a number on the final death toll, they admit that scientific experts put the possible number of fatalities at between 15,000 and 120,000 .

Mrs Bradshaw's husband, Andrew, of Stanley Street, Accrington, asked coroner Michael Singleton to conclude the inquest despite the fact that a neuro-pathologist from Preston Royal Infirmary was unable to attend. He said he just wanted to get everything over with and, speaking after the inquest, said he was concentrating on getting on with life for the sake of their children, Rebecca, seven, and Reece, two.

"I am just taking each day as it comes but I have to look to them now," said Mr Bradshaw.

The inquest heard that a working diagnosis of CJD had been made in December 1999 after Mrs Bradshaw had been transferred to the hospital. From that time the CJD surveillance unit, based in Edinburgh, had become involved.

Dr James Ironside, the country's leading expert of CJD, had identified that Mrs Bradshaw possessed the gene which is consistent with other identified cases.

Mr Singleton said it is widely accepted that CJD is caused by BSE agents in humans and that the most likely cause of infection is through meat that was contaminated with BSE in the 1980s.

He said the fact that Mrs Bradshaw worked in a butcher's shop for a short period of time was unlikely to have played any part in her death. He said all the indications were that infection was through the food chain.

"It is now beginning to be thought that people with a particular gene may be more susceptible than others but that thinking is still in the early stages," said Mr Singleton.

"That is one of the reasons it is so important that every case is investigated by the people in Edinburgh."

Mr Singleton said the medical cause of death was pneumonia caused by CJD and he said that, on the evidence currently available, that was a natural death.

After the hearing, a DoH spokesman confirmed this was the only case they were aware of in East Lancashire and said: "There are five more cases of vCJD 'indentified but still alive ' this month.

"The Government is committed to research to find out the cause of this dreadful disease and to prevent it ever happening again.

"Deaths such as this are a terrible tragedy and we are doing all we can to establish precisely what happened and discover some form of treatment for vCJD."


13 Dec 00 - CJD - France steps up BSE tests

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Wednesday 13 December 2000


All cattle over 30 months old in France will be tested for Mad Cow disease from next month, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has announced.

Mr Jospin, speaking at a conference on food safety, said the objective was to test almost 20,000 animals per week.

The European Union has called on all member states to begin testing cattle no later than 1 July, but France is moving quickly to implement the decision.

At a meeting in Brussels earlier this month, European Union agriculture ministers banned cattle over 30 months old from the food chain, unless they had been tested and found free of Mad Cow disease, or BSE.

Cases increase

The French authorities have been battling a three-month-old slump in public confidence in beef, part of which was triggered by disclosures in October that meat from a suspect herd had been distributed to three supermarket chains.

Four new cases of Mad Cow disease were announced earlier this month, taking the year's total to more than four times the 1999 figure.

Officials at the agriculture ministry said 125 cows suffering from the disease had been found on farms across France since January.

In a separate move, the Polish authorities are reported to have banned the transit of meat and bone meal from all EU countries because of the recent increase in Mad Cow disease.


13 Dec 00 - CJD - British beef 'safer than French'

By BBC News Online's Mark Smith

BBC ... Wednesday 13 December 2000


One of the UK's leading experts on the BSE epidemic has calculated that British beef is far safer to eat than French meat.

In the last year, at least 24 , and probably as many as 52 , highly infectious animals in the late stages of developing BSE were slaughtered and eaten in France. That compares to just one or two animals in Britain.

The findings are based on the number of reported cases in France, where 135 animals have been found to have the full-blown disease this year. Britain, in contrast, has reported 1,165 confirmed cases this year - but crucially no animals older than 30 months are eaten.

The risk in France is much higher because older cows, which are much more likely to be harbouring the infectious prion protein that causes BSE, are still consumed .

Dr Christl Donnelly, of the Imperial College School of Medicine in London, told the BBC: "This year, eating beef in Britain was safer than it was in France , and that's the case because of all the controls that have been brought in in the UK."

British experience

Her research estimates that 7,300 animals have been infected since 1987 in France.

The vast majority of these would have been routinely slaughtered for food while still young; and most would have shown little or no sign of BSE infection.

Her estimates, reported in the journal Nature, are the first which try to accurately reflect under-reporting by farmers.

This is a highly controversial area which has already led to many contradictory claims and counter-claims in France and elsewhere.

In effect, she looked at the numbers of cows in each age group as reported in France and compared these with what you might expect based on evidence from the British epidemic.

Even if it is assumed that all cases have been reported by farmers, at least 1,200 cows are thought to have been infected in France since 1987. And at least 24 animals in the late stages of BSE were eaten over the last year.

Risk assessment

The higher figures though (7,300 infected and 52 highly infectious animals eaten in the year 2000) are likely to be accurate, Dr Donnelly says.

The main impact of the findings is to call into question the safety of beef eaten in France. The authorities there may have to consider again if a ban on eating older cows is justified, although that could prove hugely expensive and unpopular as it has in Britain.

There will be those in the UK who will use the research to argue again that the continuing ban on imports of British beef into France is unjustifiable under present circumstances.

However, the information cannot be used to argue in favour of a ban on the importation into the UK of French beef.

It is illegal to import cows older than 30 months from France anyway, and young beef from France will still be less risky than the home-reared product.

"There has been a great deal of speculation about the relative risks in different BSE-affected countries," Dr Donnelly said.

"But when we do risk assessment it should be based on the evidence, and the evidence as analysed in this matter shows there is a lower risk in British beef eaten this year than there is French beef."

Important assumptions

Sir John Krebs, chairman of the UK's Food Standards Agency, has commented on Dr Donnelly's research. He noted that her conclusions depended on a number of uncertain assumptions - one being that BSE has followed similar patterns in France as in Britain.

Even accepting her evidence, Sir John said there was "no risk case for a ban on beef imports from France to the United Kingdom".

Sir John also pointed out that the research focused on carcass meat. But he added: "Comparable if not greater risks to UK consumers could arise from the import of meat products (such as pates and salamis) which usually contain beef, as it is difficult to ascertain the age and provenance of any cattle-derived contents."

He said new European Commission measures being brought in next year should significantly protect consumers from BSE in the future.

These included a complete ban on feeding any livestock mammalian meat and bonemeal, and the possible introduction of a Europe-wide 30-month rule that would stop the most dangerous animals going to slaughter.


13 Dec 00 - CJD - Alarm at Spread of CJD After Death of South African Woman

Staff Reporter

Independent ... Wednesday 13 December 2000


JOHANNESBURG - Evidence has emerged that the human form of the brain-wasting illness BSE, has spread wider than previously thought, after reports that a 35-year-old South African woman, who had never traveled abroad, died from the disease six months ago.

The report of Ronel Eckard's death from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the first known indigenous case outside Europe , comes as The Independent reveals evidence today that Britain dumped potentially contaminated animal feed on World markets, including South Africa, while it was banned in the United Kingdom.

Eckard, a housewife from Rustenburg, near Johannesburg, died on June 22, four months after progressively losing all feeling in her arms and legs. Her husband, Ken, an electrician, said: ``Ronel got up one morning and lost her balance. Soon afterwards one arm became lazy. Later she was no longer able to use either her arms or legs and lost control over her bodily functions.''

Variant CJD is known to have killed 85 people in Britain and Europe and has been traced back to beef cows that were given high-protein feed made from waste meat, especially the remains of sheep infected with scrapie. One death from vCJD has been reported in Canada in a 76 -year-old Scottish man. Canada and South Africa imported potentially contaminated British cattle feed, The Independent can reveal.


13 Dec 00 - CJD - UK Scientist Estimates Scale of French BSE Crisis

By Patricia Reaney

Reuters ... Wednesday 13 December 2000


LONDON (Reuters) - People in France are more at risk of eating beef contaminated with Mad Cow disease this year than their British neighbors , new research released on Wednesday said.

A risk assessment by a British scientist at Imperial College in London shows that more infected cattle were slaughtered for consumption this year in France than in Britain , where the Mad Cow, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE (news - web sites)), epidemic started.

``It shows that the number of late-stage infected animals, which would be the ones to be potentially the most infectious, was actually higher, considerably higher in France, than in Britain this year ,'' Dr Christl Donnelly said in a telephone interview.

She has been closely involved with the British epidemic while working at Imperial College since 1996. She was previously head of the statistics unit of the Wellcome Trust center at Oxford University monitoring the disease.

One or two infected British cattle were killed for consumption in 2000, compared to 49 or 24 in France, depending on assumptions about under-reporting, she added.

``No published work that I am aware of has looked at the estimates of how many animals have been infected in France throughout the epidemic and then working on from that how many infected animals would be slaughtered for consumption in France this year,'' she added.

But Donnelly, whose research is published in the science journal Nature, said it should be kept in mind that there are about twice as many cows in France as in Britain.

Despite the increased risk this year of eating tainted beef, the overall epidemic in France is just a fraction of what it was in Britain.

``There has certainly been a lot of speculation but this is providing the evidence on which people can base a solid risk assessment,'' she added.

Restrictions On Age Of Animals

French consumers have been alarmed by the steep increase in the number of reported cases of the brain-wasting disease in French herds. Consumer panic ensued after three French supermarkets revealed in October that they had sold beef from a herd potentially contaminated with BSE.

According to French government statistics, 215 animals have been confirmed with BSE since 1991. By Donnelly's calculations 1,200 were infected since mid-1987, assuming that case reporting is complete.

So far at least 80 people in Britain and two in France have died from the human equivalent of Mad Cow disease, a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) which is linked to eating contaminated beef.

Although Britain has a higher incidence of BSE, restrictions on the ages of animals that can be eaten are more stringent in Britain than in France.

``We don't actually eat older animals,'' said Donnelly.

Last week the European Union approved a plan to buy and destroy cattle aged over 30 months that have not been tested for BSE. It also issued a ban on all meat-based animal feed.

Donnelly, who has worked on the Mad Cow epidemic since 1996, used information from the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and data from the British epidemic in her risk assessment.

Her calculations show the risk of infection of French meat fell sharply from 1988 to 1991 and then gradually rose to 1996. But the top range estimate of infected cattle in France which is about 7,000 since mid-1987 is much less than the 900,000 in Britain.

``That alone gives you an order of magnitude,'' said Donnelly.


12 Dec 00 - CJD - Minister Says South Africa Is Free Of Mad Cow Disease

Staff Reporter

Pan-African News Agency ... Tuesday 12 December 2000


Cape Town. Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza Monday said the department was satisfied that South Africa had taken all the precautionary measures necessary to prevent the importation of Mad Cow disease.

This follows newspaper reports that a South African woman, Ronel Eckard died of Mad Cow disease in June.

However, Dr Ben Makgale denied the reports saying the woman died of non-bovine Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD), which is unrelated to meat.

Brain tissue taken from Eckard is to be re-examined in a bid to end speculation about the cause of her death.

The re-examination forms part of the government's efforts to salvage the battered image of South Africa's red meat industry, which has already lost millions following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

The Department of Agriculture has vehemently denied that Eckard died of Mad Cow Disease, saying South Africa had stopped importing meat and animal feed from Britain in 1998, following shortage there.

Didiza said South Africa was free of Mad Cow disease as bone meal shipments from the United Kingdom were analysed before being shipped to South Africa.

When bovine spongiform encephalopathy (madcow disease) was first diagnosed in the UK, Didiza said the National Department of Agriculture required that strict measures be applied in the UK to sterilise the exported bone meal before shipment.

South African authorities also ensured that representative samples of the landed shipments were analysed before they were certified for release for the inclusion in pet food.

Details of the consignments and importers were on record, Didiza said.

However, Kraai van Niekerk, Democratic Alliance spokesman on Agriculture said many South Africans doubt whether all the freight containers entering South Africa are indeed searched.

"Trade between South Africa and other countries is rapidly increasing. Freight containers are sealed in the country of origin and often not opened when entering South Africa, but allowed through based on the invoices and documentation shown for that container. Not enough is being done to ensure that the contents correspond with the documentation," he said.

He added: "It is further common knowledge that there are not enough officials on duty at our harbours to carry out the necessary investigations and searches on freight entering our country."

Van Niekerk urged the departments of agriculture and trade and industry must convince members of the public that Mad Cow disease, which currently is not found among South African animals, will not be allowed to infiltrate the country due to negligent control at border posts.


12 Dec 00 - CJD - Japan Nixes Foreign Animals

Staff Reporter

Associated Press ... Tuesday 12 December 2000


TOKYO (AP) - In a preemptive step against Mad Cow disease, Japan on Tuesday banned use of animals as material for making medicines and cosmetics from 28 countries around the world .

Tokyo also banned the import of intestines of animals for making sausages from some countries in which animals are suspected of being infected with the disease.

The disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is thought to spread to humans as the brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Mad Cow disease was first reported in Britain four years ago and then in wider swathes of the European continent. The disease reappeared in recent months in Germany after an increase in France. There have been no reports of Mad Cow disease in Japan.

Since 1996, Japan has banned the use of cattle from Britain for producing pharmaceutical products. Twenty-eight nations were added in the latest move.

``We are taking new regulations as a preemptive measure,'' said Daisaku Sato, an official of the pharmaceutical and medical safety bureau with the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Under the new rule, makers of medical products, medical supplies, and cosmetics makers in Japan, are banned from using ruminants such as sheep, goat and pig carcasses from the nations, mostly from Europe, Sato said.

Besides Britain, the nations include France, Swizerland, Ireland, Oman, Porgual, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Yugoslavia and Germany.

The use of animal organs including eyes and intestines that are deemed a high risk of being inflicted with Mad Cow disease will also not be permitted, he said.

So far, two people in France and 80 in Britain have died from the disease; 89 people across the 15-nation European Union have been infected.


12 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow scare, Japan bans animal products in medicine, cosmetics

Staff Reporter

CBC ... Tuesday 12 December 2000


TOKYO - Japan has banned the use of animals as sources for making medicines and cosmetics from 28 countries as a pre-emptive strike against Mad Cow disease.

Use of cow, sheep, goat and pig carcasses and animal organs are forbidden

Mad Cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is thought to spread to humans causing brain degeneration. There have been no reports of Mad Cow disease in Japan.

The Japanese government also banned the import of animal intestines used for making sausages from countries in which animals are suspected of being infected.

Mad Cow disease was first reported in Britain 1996 and then in parts of Europe. At the time Japan banned the use of animal parts from Britain for use in pharmaceutical products.

IN DEPTH: Mad Cow: the Science and the Story

The disease reappeared in recent months in Germany and France.

Under the new rule, makers of medical products and cosmetics are banned from using ruminants such as sheep, goat and pig carcasses. Countries listed include France, Swizerland, Ireland, Oman, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Yugoslavia and Germany.

The use of animal organs such as eyes and intestines is also forbidden.

So far, two people in France and 80 in Britain have died from the disease and a total of 89 people across in other European Union countries.

In a related story, European Union officials began talks Tuesday on how much compensation farmers will get under a programme to destroy older cattle, untested for Mad Cow disease.

The plan will use EU funds to buy cattle aged 30 months or more. Up to two million cattle may be affected at a cost of over one billion euros.

"The aim is two-fold. To restore consumer confidence in beef and to provide a safety net for producers," Commission spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber told a news conference.

The program is expected to begin in January.


12 Dec 00 - CJD - Japan Jumps On Anti-Mad Cow Wagon

Associated Press

CBS ... Tuesday 12 December 2000


(AP) In a preemptive step against Mad Cow disease, Japan on Tuesday banned use of animals as material for making medicines and cosmetics from 28 countries around the world.

Tokyo also banned the import of intestines of animals for making sausages from some countries in which animals are suspected of being infected with the disease.

The disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is thought to spread to humans as the brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Mad Cow disease was first reported in Britain four years ago and then in wider swathes of the European continent. The disease reappeared in recent months in Germany after an increase in France. There have been no reports of Mad Cow disease in Japan.

Since 1996, Japan has banned the use of cattle from Britain for producing pharmaceutical products. Twenty-eight nations were added in the latest move.

"We are taking new regulations as a preemptive measure," said Daisaku Sato, an official of the pharmaceutical and medical safety bureau with the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Under the new rule, makers of medical products, medical supplies, and cosmetics makers in Japan, are banned from using ruminants such as sheep, goat and pig carcasses from the nations, mostly from Europe, Sato said.

Besides Britain, the nations include France, Swizerland, Ireland, Oman, Porgual, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Yugoslavia and Germany.

The use of animal organs including eyes and intestines that are deemed a high risk of being inflicted with Mad Cow disease will also not be permitted, he said.

Also on Tuesday, the Health Ministry instructed local governments (states) and makers of animal products to check records on originating countries of products in store, the source of their manufacturing and processing methods within a month.

So far, two people in France and 80 in Britain have died from the disease; 89 people across the 15-nation European Union have been infected.


12 Dec 00 - CJD - Europe Tries To Assure Beef Is Safe

Associated Press

Guardian ... Tuesday 12 December 2000


ROME (AP) - Restaurants, butchers and cattlemen across Europe are scrambling to lure back beef-lovers scared away by fears of Mad Cow disease. In Rome, McDonald's boasts of serving only Italian beef. French butchers are tossing barbecues. British ads tout the ease of cooking beef.

The continentwide Mad Cow scare began last month in France and has spread like wildfire. In Italy, alone beef sales have fallen 70 percent, the agricultural federation says.

Hoping to reverse the trend, Italian butchers are promoting all-Italian beef.

Meat sold in the GS supermarket chain has a sticker with an Italian flag on it. The Coop chain has run full-page newspaper ads with a benign-looking cow munching grass and a tagline that says: ``To our animals, vegetable aren't just a side dish .''

The ad emphasizes that all their beef comes from less than 20-month-old cows who have never been fed by animal feed -- widely considered responsible from spreading the malady.

At the McDonald's restaurant near the Pantheon in central Rome, a sign assures customers that ``we only use boneless cuts, in particular the front ones in Italian beef. The meat is first choice, and comes exclusively from the muscle.''

Spanish butchers, too, are posting signs about the nationality of their beef.

In Paris, French butchers threw a gargantuan barbecue Sunday at the Luxembourg Gardens, roasting three whole cows on a spit and passing out slices on silver platters to the crowd.

``The objective today is to re-emphasize the value of beef, and show that it isn't some kind of poison that shouldn't be eaten any longer,'' said Maurice Lormeau, president of the butchers union in Paris.

Some see signs that the pro-beef campaign might be starting to pay off.

``The situation is going back to normal now,'' said Luigi Maestri, director of the Rome McDonald's, which was crowded Monday with burger-munching beef eaters.

In Britain, where a first wave of Mad Cow panic broke out in 1996, the Meat and Livestock Commission said recently that beef sales are rising from the all-time low they hit at the height of Britain's crisis. Ads in Britain now focus on the ease of serving beef.

``We are trying to illustrate that beef... is very easy and quick to cook,'' said Phil Toms, product manager for beef and lamb at the commission. ``We want to encourage people to eat beef more often during the week.''

Most menus in quality British restaurants will specifically state that the beef comes from Scotland or some other source outside of England, usually Argentina.

The European Union has taken action to prevent the Mad Cow disease from spreading. Last week it imposed a six-month ban on ground meat and bone in animal feed. It has also stepped up tests on older cattle, which are more vulnerable to Mad Cow, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, as the disease is formally known.

Some scientists suspect the disease causes a similar fatal brain-destroying ailment, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, in people who eat infected beef. Two people in France and 80 in Britain have died from the human form of the disease.

In Germany, gripped by Mad Cow panic since the discovery of the first case in November, McDonald's is using a different approach from the one used in Italy, where the only two cases of Mad Cow were in 1994 in animals imported from Britain.

A radio ad by the U.S. fast-food giant aired in Germany is promoting non-beef options: salads, chicken and fish burgers.


12 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease Said the Cause of Ukraine Cattle Deaths

By Yuliya Polyakova

St Petersburg Times ... Tuesday 12 December 2000


MOSCOW - With jitters over Mad Cow disease sweeping Europe, Russians were jarred this week when the fatal disease appeared to have struck close to home .

Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry announced Thursday that two cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, had died in the village of Simonov in the Rovno region.

Ukraine is Russia's main supplier of beef, providing about 70 percent of the market, according to the Russian Meat Union.

An employee with the Rovno regional headquarters of the Emergency Situations Ministry, Col. Viktor Simonyuk, said that it was unclear how the cows became infected.

"We are currently trying to find a reason for what happened," said Simonyuk.

"We must introduce quarantines, vaccines and screen all cows for the presence of the dangerous disease."

However, other Ukrainian authorities questioned the Emergency Situations Ministry's assessment, saying the region did not even have the resources needed to detect the disease.

"Our Emergency Situations Ministry has got something wrong," said Alexander Kostuk, the head doctor at the Rovno veterinarian department.

"Two cows did indeed die from a form of rabies, but this was the normal kind, the kind that affects foxes and dogs," said Valentina Titorenko, a deputy head at the Agriculture Ministry.

While fears about Mad Cow disease have wreaked havoc on European food markets, there have been no recorded cases of it in Russia. Russian officials said that it is very difficult to find out whether the disease has crossed into Russia.

"It's just that many Russian and Ukrainian vets do not have the means to diagnose BSE," said Viktor Yatskin at the Russian Meat Union.

European experts believe that there is a link between the disease and the use of ground bone in animal feed, of which Russia imported 117,967 tons last year, according to State Customs Committee data.

Russian Meat Union chairman Musheg Mamikonyan said the feed is mostly used for pigs, while cattle are fed hay or pasture grass.

Yatskin disagreed. "In Russia, bone powder has traditionally been used to feed all animals," he said.


11 Dec 00 - CJD - Study finds more French BSE cases

CNN & Reuters

CNN ... Monday 11 December 2000


December 11, 2000 Web posted at: 1:59 PM EST (1859 GMT) PARIS, France -- A new report has found the incidence of Mad Cow disease in France is more prevalent than previously thought.

France's Food Safety Board said in a preliminary report on Monday that it had detected at least one case of the disease for every 500 cattle tested in the northwest of the country.

The discovery came as France decided to remove all injured cattle from the food chain, the Farm Ministry said.

"All injured animals will be culled on the farm," Catherine Geslain-Laneelle, general director of food at the ministry, said.

"There are 25,000 injured animals per year. They will no longer enter the food chain."

She did not make clear if there was a perceived link between animal injuries and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the scientific name for Mad Cow disease.

The preliminary results of the government's testing programme revealed that of 15,000 high-risk cows sampled between June and October, 32 produced positive traces of BSE.

The new cases brings the total of BSE cases detected so far this year to 129 , up from 30 in 1999 .

The disease has been linked to the fatal brain-wasting human condition new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) which has killed at least 80 people in Britain and two in France.

'BREAKDOWN' IN RECOGNISING BSE

Also worrying French officials is the prospect that many infected animals may have entered the human food chain in the mid 1990s.

Of the animals tested, those born between 1993 and 1995 proved particularly vulnerable to the disease and it is now feared many may have slipped past food safety controls and sold for meat for human consumption .

The report says it is likely there was "a breakdown in recognising or declaring cases of BSE by clinical methods first introduced in 1990."

France has been gripped by a Mad Cow scare over recent months after the discovery of a spate of new cases of the disease.

Officials have banned some cuts of beef and many local authorities have banned beef altogether for school lunches. meat and bonemeal stockfeed, blamed for the emergence of BSE, has also been banned for all livestock.

The Mad Cow crisis has rapidly spread across Europe, prompting the EU last week to take tough measures to contain the illness, including a ban on all meat-based animal feeds.

Beef consumption in France has dropped by 30 percent over recent months.

The tests of France's cows will continue for several more months with up to 35,000 cattle to be examined.


11 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE contaminated cattle feed exported for eight years after UK ban

By Paul Lashmar

Independent ... Monday 11 December 2000


Eight years after Britain banned the sale of potentially BSE-infected feed to farmers in this country, the product was still being exported .

South Africa , where the first non-European case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) was reported at the weekend, imported some of the British animal feed exported while it was banned here.

The South African victim, Ronel Eckard, 35, who died in July, appears to have picked up the disease from eating hamburgers . She had never travelled abroad. Suspicion must now centre on whether the meat was infected with BSE, or Mad Cow disease, from contaminated British feed exports .

Britain imposed a ban on using meat and bone meal (MBM) made from slaughtered cows in cattle feed in July 1988 . Three months earlier government animal health experts had realised that feed made from bovine MBM was responsible for the rapid spread of BSE in Britain.

But for eight more years contaminated feed was exported worldwide with what critics say was woefully inadequate warnings on the product.

Before the BSE crisis about 350,000 tons of MBM feed was sold in Britain a year, and relatively little was exported. After the ban the UK government did inform the EU, but there was a surge in exports to Europe. Then, as European states - informed of the danger - banned British feed, exporters opened up new markets , including North America, the Middle East and Asia.

Dr Stephen Dealler, a microbiologist and BSE expert, said: "It was a terrible mistake... Look at the controls they are now trying to apply to stop BSE in France and other EU countries. It is going to be much harder in African and Middle Eastern countries."

Evidence to the British BSE inquiry headed by Lord Phillips shows that British officials washed their hands of moral responsibility over the dangers of MBM spreading BSE to infection-free countries, the approach was to inform international bodies, leaving it to member states to decide whether to import UK feed and prevent it being fed to cattle.

British shipments reached 30,000 tons a year in 1993 and went on until 1996, when an EU directive banned all UK exports. The feed went to countries including Czech Republic , Nigeria , Thailand , South Africa , Kenya , Turkey , Indonesia , Hungary , Malaysia , Taiwan , Hong Kong , South Korea , USA , Canada , Saudi Arabia , and Sri Lanka .

The Phillips inquiry reveals astonishing memos between British officials over the sale of MBM. In the Ministry of Agriculture (Maff), John Gummer, then an Agriculture minister, is reported in minutes as having said the UK had a "moral obligation to ensure that importing countries were aware we did not permit the feeding of these products to ruminants".

Alistair Cruickshank, a Maff civil servant, however, told the inquiry: "At the meeting of 14 April 1988, [John] MacGregor [then Minister of Agriculture] gave no indication he agreed with Gummer's suggestion."

In a letter dated 15 June 1989, Keith Meldrum, the chief veterinary officer, wrote to the president of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, saying: "We have discussed by telephone why we would not wish to interfere with the export of meat and bone meal from this country even if we had the powers to do so. As you will appreciate we do not consider it morally indefensible to export meat and bone to other countries since it may be used for feeding to pigs and poultry... We have ensured that all countries of the world have been informed of our problems, not only through the publication of articles, but by statements at [international] meetings."

It was not until summer 1989 that using the carcasses of animals infected with BSE to make MBM was banned .

In January 1990, Sir Donald Acheson, the chief medical officer, wrote to Mr Meldrum warning him of the dangers. "We should take steps to prevent these UK products being fed to ruminants in other countries. Unless such action is taken, the difficult problems we have faced with BSE may well occur in other countries."

In February 1990, Dr Hilary Pickles, a senior official in the Department of Health, wrote to the chief medical officer claiming that the Government's behaviour was not "responsible" .


11 Dec 00 - CJD - South African woman may have died from Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

Channel News Asia ... Monday 11 December 2000


Reports suggest a South African woman may have died from Mad Cow disease, the first such possible case in the country.

The woman's husband told the South African media that laboratory tests showed that Ronel Eckard may have contracted a variant of the human strain of Mad Cow disease, or CJD.

However, agricultural authorities denied the report, saying that it would be necessary to examine Mrs Eckard's pathology reports.

Many people have died from variant CJD, mainly in the United Kingdom.

But South Africa does not import British beef.

35-year-old Ronel Eckard became ill in February. She lost feeling in her arms and legs, and her speech became slurred.

Months of tests followed, with doctors suspecting cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Two weeks before her death, Mrs Eckard underwent a brain biopsy and was diagnosed with CJD, but laboratory tests were unable to determine what variant it was.

The doctor, who examined Mrs Eckard before she died, said her symptoms were consistent with those of Mad Cow disease, but he was unable to confirm it.

The tissue in which the biopsy was performed was destroyed, making it impossible to prove the exact cause of death.

Mr Eckard does not know how his wife, who had never travelled abroad, may have contracted the disease.

However, Mr Eckard said his late wife loved eating hamburgers .

More than 80 people have died from the disease, mainly in Britain, where the beef industry has been under scrutiny for its practices and safety standards.


11 Dec 00 - CJD - Animal feed suspected in South African CJD case

By Alex Duval Smith and Paul Lashmar

New Zealand Herald ... Monday 11 December 2000


JOHANNESBURG - Specialists on Mad Cow disease face the new and worrying prospect that the human form of the brain-wasting illness may have spread far wide r than previously thought, after new reports that a 35-year-old South African woman - who had never travelled abroad - died from it six months ago.

It is believed to be the first non-European case of new variant Creutzfeldt Jacob disease (vCJD) - the form of the disease which is specifically linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Eight years after Britain banned the sale of potentially BSE-infected feed to its farmers, the product was still being exported to more than 20 countries around the world. South Africa imported tens of thousands of tonnes of British animal feed.

There have been 85 cases of vCJD in Britain to date, three in France, one in Ireland and most recently a case in Canada of an expatriate Scot who spent a large part of his life in London. The South African victim, Ronel Eckard, appears to have picked up the disease from eating hamburgers and had never travelled overseas. Suspicion must now centre on whether the meat was infected with BSE as a result of contaminated British feed exports.

Eckard died only four months after progressively losing all feeling in her arms and legs, her electrician husband, Ken, said at the weekend. Eckard said he had approached the media because health authorities had failed to follow up on his wife's death.

South Africa and Zimbabwe have Africa's biggest beef industries and have been proud of their "BSE-free" record. Exports have soared since the end of trade sanctions in 1994.

Britain imposed a ban on using meat and bone meal (MBM) made from slaughtered cows in cattle feed in July 1988. Just three months earlier Government animal health experts had realised that feed made from bovine MBM was responsible for the rapid spread of the BSE in Britain. But for eight more years contaminated feed was exported worldwide with little or no warning .

Before the BSE crisis about 350,000 tonnes a year of MBM feed was sold on the British market and relatively little was exported. After the ban there was a surge in exports of the feed to Europe. Then as European Union countries imposed bans on British feed, exporters opened up new markets.

Feed went to the Czech Republic, Nigeria, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Turkey, Liberia, Lebanon, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Hungary, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Curacao and Sri Lanka .

In March 1996, when the Government was certain that BSE caused the human variant CJD, the sale of all British MBM feed was banned by an EU directive.

South Africa's national veterinary services director, Gideon Bruckner, said that no cases of BSE had been found in South Africa. "Since 1998 import controls have been in place on all bone meal from Europe."


11 Dec 00 - CJD - France to Remove Injured Cattle from Food Chain

Reuters

Yahoo ... Monday 11 December 2000


PARIS (Reuters) - France has decided to remove all injured cattle from the food chain, a government official said on Monday as she presented preliminary results of a campaign to test thousands of animals for Mad Cow disease.

``All injured animals will be culled on the farm,'' said Catherine Geslain-Laneelle, general director of food at the Farm Ministry. ``There are 25,000 injured animals per year. They will no longer enter the food chain.''

She did not make clear if there was a perceived link between animal injuries and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the scientific name for Mad Cow disease.

The government presented the results of the first 15,000 tests out of a planned total of 48,000 tests in a campaign, launched in June, to measure the extent of BSE among France's 21 million head of cattle.

The first batch of tests revealed 32 cases of the deadly brain-wasting disease, bringing the total so far this year to 129 , up from 30 in 1999 .

The sharp increase in the number of reported case has caused panic among consumers, which was heightened after three French supermarkets revealed in October they had sold beef from a herd potentially contaminated with Mad Cow disease.

The human version of the disease has killed at least 80 people in Britain and two in France.

The crisis rapidly spread to other European Union member states, prompting the EU last week to take tough measures to contain the spread of the illness, including a ban on all meat-based animal feeds.


11 Dec 00 - CJD - Alarm at spread of CJD

By Alex Duval Smith in Johannesburg

Guardian ... Monday 11 December 2000


Evidence has emerged that the human form of the brain-wasting illness BSE has spread wider than previouly thought, after reports that a 35 -year-old South African woman, who had never travelled abroad , died from the disease six months ago.

The report of Ronel Eckard's death from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the first known indigenous case outside Europe , comes as The Independent reveals evidence today that Britain dumped potentially contaminated animal feed on World markets, including South Africa, while it was banned in the UK.

Ms Eckard, a housewife from Rustenburg, near Johannesburg, died on 22 June, four months after progressively losing all feeling in her arms and legs.

Her husband, Ken, an electrician, said: "Ronel got up one morning and lost her balance. Soon afterwards one arm became lazy. Later she was no longer able to use either her arms or legs and lost control over her bodily functions."

Variant CJD is known to have killed 85 people in Britain and Europe and has been traced back to beef cows that were given high-protein feed made from waste meat, especially the remains of sheep infected with scrapie.

One death from vCJD has been reported in Canada in a 76 -year-old Scottish man. Canada and South Africa imported potentially contaminated British cattle feed, The Independent can reveal.


10 Dec 00 - CJD - Ukraine Records 2 Mad Cow Cases

By Yuliya Polyakova

Moscow Times ... Sunday 10 December 2000


Vedomosti With jitters over Mad Cow disease sweeping Europe, Russians were jarred this week when the fatal disease appeared to have struck close to home.

Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry announced Thursday that two cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, had died in the village of Simonov in the Rovno region.

Ukraine is Russia's main supplier of beef, providing about 70 percent of the market, according to the Russian Meat Union.

An employee with the Rovno regional headquarters of the Emergency Situations Ministry, Colonel Viktor Simonyuk, said that it was unclear how the cows became infected.

"We are currently trying to find a reason for what happened," said Simonyuk. "We must introduce quarantines, vaccines and screen all cows for the presence of the dangerous disease."

However, other Ukrainian authorities questioned the Emergency Situations Ministry's assessment, saying the region did not even have the resources needed to detect the disease.

"Our Emergency Situations Ministry has got something wrong," said Alexander Kostuk, the head doctor at the Rovno veterinarian department.

"Two cows did indeed die from a form of rabies, but this was the normal kind, the kind that affects foxes and dogs," said Valentina Titorenko, a deputy head at the Agriculture Ministry.

While fears about Mad Cow disease have wreaked havoc on European food markets, there have been no recorded cases of it in Russia. A ban has been slapped on imports of beef from Britain, Portugal and Switzerland and parts of France and Ireland.

Russian officials said that it is very difficult to find out whether the disease has crossed into Russia.

"It's just that many Russian and Ukrainian vets do not have the means to diagnose BSE," said Viktor Yatskin at the Russian Meat Union.

European experts believe that there is a link between the disease and the use of ground bone in animal feed , of which Russia imported 117,967 tons last year, according to State Customs Committee data.

Russian Meat Union chairman Musheg Mamikonyan said the feed is mostly used for pigs, while cattle are fed hay or pasture grass.

Yatskin disagreed. "In Russia, bone powder has traditionally been used to feed all animals," he said.


10 Dec 00 - CJD - Poland to Ban Meat and Bone Meal From Five EU Countries

Agence France Presse

Central Europe Online ... Sunday 10 December 2000


WARSAW, Dec 9, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Poland will ban meat and bone meal from Austria , Italy , Greece , Sweden and Finland , the veterinary service here said on Friday.

The ban was aimed at limiting "the chances of introducing contaminated products onto the Polish market, given the growing number of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that have been discovered," the service said in a statement.

meat and bone meal is believed to spread BSE, or Mad Cow disease, which has been linked to the fatal human illness variant Creutzfeld Jakob disease.

The ban was due to be put in place on Saturday at 23:00 GMT.

Polish authorities have repeatedly assured worried consumers that no cases of Mad Cow disease have been detected here.

Beef and cattle imports from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain were banned last month in an attempt keep the disease at bay.

The import of cattle and beef from Britain, Ireland and Switzerland has been banned since 1998 and from Portugal since 1999. ((c) 2000 Agence France Presse)


10 Dec 00 - CJD - Deaths linked to Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

Otago Daily Times ... Sunday 10 December 2000


Warsaw: A Polish hospital has attributed two deaths in the past 18 months to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human form of Mad Cow disease.

One of the victims, a 30 -year-old man, died several months ago, while the other, a woman of an unknown age, died 18 months ago, according to a report.

Poland banned the import of beef from many European Union countries after a recent scare over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the so-called Mad Cow disease, in France. But the Government has moved to reassure Poles that Polish beef is safe to eat. "Everything up to this point indicates that this has nothing to do with eating infected beef," Ryszard Obiedzinski, head of the neurological branch of the hospital in the northern city of Gdansk, said.

BSE in cattle has been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed more than 80 people in Britain and two in France. - Reuters


10 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow disease may be extraterrestrial

Staff Reporter

Australian Sunday Telegraph ... Sunday 10 December 2000


The Mad Cow disease could have come from outer space, according to two professors.

Alien organisms may have reached Earth among space debris from falling comets before being eaten by grazing cattle, they say.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and Sir Fred Hoyle put the blame for BSE on prions -- infected pieces of protein --coming from comets and meteor showers.