Document Directory

01 Feb 01 - CJD - beef prices fall further as BSE crisis deepens
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Roche and Prionics Announce Collaboration in the Field of BSE Tests
01 Feb 01 - CJD - No BSE Cases Among Cattle Imported to Slovakia From EU Countries
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Use UK BSE controls, Europe told
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Candy Not Tainted by Mad Cow, Says Company
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Latest developments in relation to BSE
01 Feb 01 - CJD - FDA says Texas cattle ate banned feed
01 Feb 01 - CJD - 47 CJD Cases Reported in Korea, But No Mad Cow Disease Cases
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Customs Alerted on Mad Cow Disease
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Scare Grips Nation
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Korean may be having Mad Cow disease
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mass slaughter of German cows could start within a week; EU slams
01 Feb 01 - CJD - High Hopes for East Germany's 'Mad Cow Island'
01 Feb 01 - CJD - First vCJD case reported outside Europe
01 Feb 01 - CJD - South Korea dismisses report of vCJD case
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow scare comes to Asia
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Germany orders 'cynical' slaughter of 400,000 cattle
01 Feb 01 - CJD - 'CJD in blood' sparks therapy boycott
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Halt Operations
01 Feb 01 - CJD - Regulators See No Mad Cow Panic in U.S. Yet



01 Feb 01 - CJD - beef prices fall further as BSE crisis deepens

By Sean MacConnell, Agriculture Correspondent

Irish Times- Thursday 1 February 2001


Commercial beef prices being offered at meat factories continued to slide yesterday as the impact of the BSE crisis dealt a further blow to farmers.

Some meat plants were not accepting cattle for beef production at all, and more of them were expected to switch over to the Slaughter for Destruction Scheme before the end of the week. This is in the wake of prices only matching the level available under the EU cull.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Department of Agriculture and the Environment Protection Agency have been in discussions to grade specified risk materials (SRM) in a new way to overcome acute waste-management problems.

The EPA was yesterday considering a suggestion from the meat-processing trade that SRM - the organs in which BSE is considered most likely to manifest itself - could be divided into high-grade and low-grade.

The meat industry has asked the EPA to license another plant to render "low-risk" SRM from animals already tested negative for BSE and from cattle under 30 months of age which are considered unlikely to contain BSE.

Only one plant in Ireland - Monery, in Cavan - is authorised to render the SRM removed from animals killed in the Republic. But it has been licensed to deal with only 1,000 tonnes a week. As a result of the EU's inclusion of the entire intestine as SRM, the bulk of the material has increased six-fold and the Monery plant is unable to cope.

SRM from the animals being slaughtered - nearly 100,000 since the beginning of the year - is building up in coldstores throughout the State until it can be dealt with at Monery.

The urgency has increased following objections to the interim licence issued by the EPA for a rendering facility at Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

The EPA is thought to be examining some of the eight other rendering plants which deal with non-SRM material and animals from the EU Slaughter for Destruction Scheme, with a view to reviewing their licences to allow this lower-risk SRM to be processed.

The expected slide in the commercial beef trade has started, with farmers now being offered the same price for commercial beef as beef going into the EU Slaughter for Destruction Scheme. The factories are being forced to do this because German beef is flooding EU markets, where there is already a surplus.

Already about 1,000 tonnes of German beef have been imported. It is believed to have been processed for the catering trade in the Republic. Industry sources said yesterday it was "highly unlikely" that factories would continue to slaughter between 15,000 and 20,000 cattle a week for markets which no longer existed.

"They had been killing up to 20,000 animals a week for the commercial markets but the surplus of German beef makes a continuation of that impossible," one source said.

"It looks now as if the factories and the farmers will be forced to rely on the Slaughter for Destruction scheme, which was set up to take surplus beef off the market," he added.

Nearly 40,000 cattle have been slaughtered and destroyed since the scheme began on January 10th last.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Roche and Prionics Announce Collaboration in the Field of BSE Tests

Staff Reporter

ChemConnect- Thursday 1 February 2001


Roche Diagnostics, a Division of the Roche Group, and Prionics Inc., a Zürich-based biotechnology company, have agreed on a collaboration that will respond to the increasing demand throughout Europe for validated tests for BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). In 1998, Prionics, a spin-off company founded by distinguished prion researchers at the University of Zürich, introduced Prionics-Check, the first specific and rapid test for the detection of BSE ("Mad Cow disease") in cattle. On February 1st Roche Diagnostics is to take over distribution of Prionics-Check in virtually all markets.

The collaborative agreement between Roche Diagnostics and Prionics, the leading company in the field of prion diagnostics, is intended to ensure that the growing demand for reliable and sensitive tests for BSE that has arisen as a result of the BSE crisis can continue to be met. Distribution of the test is to be taken over by Roche Molecular Biochemicals, a business unit of Roche Diagnostics that supplies scientists throughout the world with new diagnostic systems and that for decades has cultivated close links with national veterinary authorities and their testing laboratories.

In joint work with Prionics Roche Diagnostics is to make use of the know-how available at its Penzberg site on the further development of Prionics-Check - which is already a fast, robust, and cheap diagnostic test. This cooperative work, to which Roche will contribute in particular its expertise in test automation, is to focus on the development of more user-friendly tests.

At present only dead animals can be tested for the presence of BSE. One of the most pressing needs in relation to this deadly disease is therefore the development of a blood test. Only by means of such a test will it be possible to test live animals for BSE. "For Roche Diagnostics, with its wealth of know-how in the field of blood-based diagnostics, the development of a blood test for BSE is a top priority", pointed out Heino von Prondzynski, head of Roche's Diagnostics Division and a member of the Executive Committee, adding that "the close partnership between Roche Diagnostics and Prionics will ensure that the increasing world-wide demand for Prionics-Check can be met and that high-quality technical backup can be provided at an international level."

In addition to its effects on people's eating habits, the increasing spread of BSE is also having an impact on blood banks. Manfred Baier, head of Roche Molecular Biochemicals, therefore stated that "as a leading industrial company working together with many research institutions throughout the world, we see it as one of our highest priorities to develop a blood test by means of which Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the fatal disease of humans that appears to be closely related to BSE, can be detected as early and as specifically as possible."

Dr. Bruno Oesch, a prion expert and one of the three cofounders of Prionics Inc., stated that "given Roche's high level of competence in the development of new diagnostic methods and Prionics' expertise in prion diagnostics, I expect this collaboration to considerably accelerate the development of new tests. An additional bonus for a young company such as ours is the fact that our customer service will be greatly strengthened by the experience and good reputation of Roche's distribution and service network." Dr. Markus Moser, another of the cofounders of Prionics, commented as follows: "A key point for us is the fact that Prionics is to remain completely independent and will thus be able to continue developing its strengths as a young, research-oriented company."

Prionics-Check was validated by the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office and the BSE Reference Centre of the University of Bern in the spring of 1998. Since then many European countries have adopted it as an official test for the purpose of BSE surveillance. All the validation procedures, field studies, and surveillance programmes in which the test has been employed to date have confirmed its superior specificity, sensitivity, and reliability. It can detect BSE in beef cattle as early as six months before the appearance of the typical symptoms. It is based on the Western blot technique and is so specific and reliable that even now, after very extensive use in the field, it has yet to yield a single false-positive result, with all the serious consequences that can arise from this.

Prionics Inc., a young biotechnology company based at the University of Zürich, was founded in the spring of 1997 by three prion researchers, Dr. Bruno Oesch, Dr. Markus Moser, and Dr. Carsten Korth, with the aim of exploiting discoveries made at the University of Zürich in the field of prion diagnostics. The canton of Zürich, the holder of the patents concerned, has assigned all its exploitation rights to Prionics Inc.

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading research-based healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and vitamins. Roche's innovative products and services address prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, thus enhancing people's wellbeing and quality of life. Roche employs around 64,000 people and markets its products in over 170 countries. Its Diagnostics Division supplies a broad range of innovative diagnostic tests and services for use by doctors, patients, researchers, hospitals, and laboratories throughout the world.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - No BSE Cases Among Cattle Imported to Slovakia From EU Countries



Central Europe Online- Thursday 1 February 2001


Bratislava, 31 January: The only potential risk in connection with BSE and the new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are those 5,600-5,900 cattle imported from EU countries that are currently considered to be risky. However, these animals and their offspring have been checked and no cases of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), nor the new type of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has been registered up to now, the chairman of the government's commission for BSE control and the National Veterinary Authority director-general, Dusan Magic, told journalists after the first session of the commission on Wednesday [31 January].

The commission evaluated Slovakia's measures in connection with this disease and prepared the recommended measures, with which ministries should deal in the upcoming period. The most important measure, which should come to effect as of 1 April, should be elimination of cattle's risky parts from the people-animal food chain. risky organs where BSE prions can be found are the brain, spinal cord, spleen and bowels. For this reason, the whole head and spinal cord with the attached meat, as well as the mentioned organs, would be selected at slaughter-houses and later on burnt. As it was proven that under certain conditions pigs may be infected by a form of BSE too, their feeding by bone meal will be stopped as of 1 April too.

After two months when probably the control of cattle will be finished, bone meal will be allowed again. (Bone meal had never been used to feed cattle in Slovakia.) In connection with the safety of other products from cattle, Magic said that BSE prion was not found in milk and meat of the animal, and its presence in blood is temporary, immediately after the infection of the animal when the infection is carried to nerve system. Import of tins of beef and cattle was prohibited already in 1996 and bone meal was only imported from Austria. (hospital/polyclinic in Nitra has a male patient with symptoms similar to classic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. However, hospital director Viktor Zak told the TASR news agency that a special examination of the patient revealed it was not Mad Cow disease).


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Use UK BSE controls, Europe told

Staff Reporter

BBC- Thursday 1 February 2001


European Union countries being swept by fears over BSE - Mad Cow disease - have been urged to follow the UK's example in tackling the disease.

The European Commission issued the call after new figures showed that despite Britain still having by far the highest rate of BSE in cattle, beef consumption is rising.

beef consumption:

EU average: -27%

UK: +3%

Finland: +1%

Belgium: -20%

France: -25%

Germany: -50%

In Germany, which thought it was BSE-free until November last year, consumption has plummeted 50% compared to the 3% increase in the UK.

"Why is that? It is because people see that the incidence of BSE in the UK is falling," health and consumer safety commissioner David Byrne told the European Parliament on Thursday.

"Consumers can conclude from that that somebody is in charge, that they are doing something about it, that they appear to know what they are doing."

He said the British public was now realising the scientific advice was correct and being implemented properly.

Controls resisted

But in other EU countries a "shock reaction" had been triggered in consumers where their governments had admitted cases of BSE in their national herd after years of denial.

beef sales were slumping "because it says that whoever is in charge does not know what he is talking about", Mr Byrne said.

The European Commission has criticised Germany and Spain for having resisted the introduction of recommended BSE controls for years because they both claimed to be BSE-free.

They and other countries, Mr Byrne said, should follow Britain's example as a way of restoring consumer confidence.

The latest consumption figures triggered a warning earlier in the week of a possible return to the huge surpluses which nobody wants but which cost millions of pounds a year to store.

A special EU committee is being set up to look at ways of restoring consumer confidence in member states.

But for the moment newly-introduced EU-wide compulsory testing of all cattle over 30 months old will not be changed, despite the discovery in Germany last week of BSE in a cow aged 28 months.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Candy Not Tainted by Mad Cow, Says Company

Staff Reporter

YAHOO- Thursday 1 February 2001


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In response to questions raised about the safety of its popular Mamba candy, the US division of August Storck KG has released a statement asserting that the candy ``poses no health risk to the public'' because of the use of beef-derived gelatin as an ingredient.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), has now been detected in many European countries and fears have mounted about the possibility of humans contracting a version of the disease from contaminated beef and beef byproducts. Thus far, more than 80 people in Europe are known to have died from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Mamba candy was one of thousands of products recalled 10 days ago in Poland.

But the company says that the candy is manufactured in full compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. An FDA spokesperson told Reuters Health, ``it's verified that (Storck) did follow our guidelines.''

These guidelines were developed in 1997 and 1998 and state that the FDA does not object to the use of gelatin in products produced from bones or hides obtained from cattle residing in BSE countries, if the cattle are from BSE-free herds and if the slaughterhouse has immediately removed heads, spines, and spinal cords directly after slaughter.

``We stand behind the safety and quality of our product,'' Storck USA's CEO and President, Liam Killeen, stated. ``There is absolutely no need for concern.''

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Storck announced that their products were being reformulated such that vegetable starch will be used instead of beef gelatin.

In a press statement, the company said ``products produced with the new formulation will reach US store shelves by the end of February.''


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Latest developments in relation to BSE

Commissioner David Byrne

European Commission- Thursday 1 February 2001


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David BYRNE European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Latest developments in relation to BSE BSE-Debate - European Parliament Brussels, 1st February 2001

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DN: SPEECH/01/44 Date: 2001-02-01

David BYRNE

European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection

Latest developments in relation to BSE

BSE-Debate - European Parliament

Brussels, 1st February 2001

President, distinguished Members

I am pleased of the opportunity to update Parliament on the most recent events in relation to BSE. Many of you were present when I spoke to the Agriculture Committee last week. Nonetheless, let me very briefly summarise the main events of recent weeks:

Important new measures came into effect from 1 January. These included the ban on meat and bone meal and the testing of all animals aged over 30 months destined for the food chain.

The Commission wrote to all Ministers for Agriculture on 4 January and asked for replies to an extensive questionnaire on the implementation of BSE related measures. A working document, summarising the responses, was circulated to the Agriculture Council on Monday;

The opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee on a number of BSE-related questions from the Commission was published on 17 January. This set the agenda for the Agriculture Council on Monday. Following the usual very lengthy discussions, Member States agreed on the following main orientations:

A ban on mechanically recovered meat;

The heat treatment of ruminant fats for inclusion in animal feed;

The removal of the vertebral column, the backbone, from cattle. All three of these orientations follow directly from the previous discussions in the Council on the measures necessary to restore consumer confidence. They are also based on the opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee.

I intend to present proposals within the next several days on all of these issues to the Standing Veterinary Committee. They will of course result in further controls and potentially very significant costs.

It is surely a matter of very great regret that this determination to tackle BSE has taken so long to emerge. Only seven months ago, the Commission failed to obtain a qualified majority to ban brain and spinal cord from food for human consumption and animal feed. Equally, not all Member States implemented the ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to ruminants in a satisfactory manner.

I would like to return to the proposals which the Commission will put to the Standing Veterinary Committee.

Mechanically Recovered Meat

The Commission will shortly consider a proposal to ban the use of mechanically recovered meat from all bones of ruminants of all ages. There is a case that material from bones other than the skull and vertebral column, or from bones of young animals, is safe. However, this involves important control problems. In the circumstances, a total ban is necessary.

I might add that the use of mechanically recovered meat is increasingly repugnant to consumers. The processed meat industry has also called for a ban. The proposed measure should, therefore, be very welcome to both industry and consumers.

Rendered Fat

The Commission will propose that ruminant fats to be included in animal feed should be pressure cooked, in addition to the current requirement that they be ultra-filtrated. The Commission will equally act on the opinion that such ruminant fats should only be sourced from discrete adipose tissues when fed as milk replacers to calves.

We also need to reflect, however, if these changes can be properly enforced. For example, might there be control problems in distinguishing between different fats? If so, is there a need for an outright ban on the use of ruminant fats in ruminant feed? If so, how do we ensure that the replacement fats are safe?

One final point on the issue of ruminant fats. It is surely incredulous to the public that there should be higher standards relating to the use of ruminant fats in animal feed than applies to their use in food for human consumption. However, that is the current situation. I intend to put this right.

Vertebral Column

The Commission intention is to require removal of the vertebral column where there are doubts over the effectiveness of the ban on meat and bone meal or whenever it cannot be demonstrated that animals are highly unlikely to be incubating BSE. This is in keeping with the opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee.

Again, however, there are important issues which need to be addressed. Where should the vertebral column be removed? If it is done at the abattoir, the most easily controlled location, there are implications for the storage and transport of beef carcasses. There are also risks of microbiological handling due to the increased handling involved.

If, instead, removal is required at the butcher or retail outlet, there will be control problems in the recovery and destruction of the bones.

Similarly, we need to be aware of the impact on consumers. A strict implementation of the scientific committee would require removal of vertebral column in animals aged over 12 months, as is currently the case in France. This will entail a ban on certain cuts of meat which are very popular T-bones and bistecca fiorentina, for example.

Finally, which Member States should be exempt from the requirement? Should, for example, Member States like Austria, Sweden and Finland which continue to be BSE-free be exempt? These are all issues which the Commission is urgently considering and will address in its proposal.

I hope that these observations serve to highlight the very complex issues which arise from what might appear, at first sight, to be a relatively simple measure.

I am aware that the issue of controls is of concern. In this respect, the replies of Ministers to my letter of 4 January is re-assuring: all Member States now insist that they are giving top priority to the secure implementation of BSE related measures. The Food and Veterinary Office will continue its programme of inspections in this regard.

As a further incentive to improve compliance, I am considering a proposal in the very near future to require Member States to present monthly reports on their implementation of BSE control measures. The UK and Portugal are already required to provide such a report under the restriction measures on their exports of beef. I believe it has been invaluable in ensuring that controls are actively implemented. It should, therefore, be replicated at the Community level.

Thank you for your attention.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - FDA says Texas cattle ate banned feed

By Amy Norton

JustMove - Thursday 1 February 2001


NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters Health) - About 1,200 Texas cattle were given feed containing ground-up meat and bones from other cattle, a violation of federal rules designed to keep Mad Cow disease out of the American food supply, government officials reported Tuesday.

However, the Food and Drug Administration said, the chances of the cattle having contracted Mad Cow disease are "exceedingly low." The animals used in the feed were domestic, and there have been no known cases of Mad Cow disease in US cattle.

More properly known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Mad Cow disease has been detected in a growing number of European countries, sparking fears of more widespread outbreaks of the human form of the disease. That brain-wasting disorder, known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), has been largely confined to the UK. Scientists believe people first contracted vCJD by eating meat contaminated with Mad Cow disease.

In 1997, the FDA banned the practice of feeding ruminant, or cud-chewing, animals any product containing other ruminants. The practice of feeding ground up cow and sheep carcasses to cows is believed to have triggered the spread of Mad Cow disease among cattle in the UK. Federal officials announced last week that they had quarantined the Texas cattle after the feed mill involved notified the FDA it may have violated the agency's rules.

According to the FDA, Purina Mills, which owns the feed mill, will buy all the animals. The cattle cannot be used in any way that will allow them into the human food chain, but the company is not obligated to destroy the animals, an FDA spokeswoman told Reuters Health.

The agency also says it believes Purina Mills "has behaved responsibly by first reporting the human error that resulted in the misformulation of the animal feed supplement and then by working closely with State and Federal authorities."

However, earlier this month the FDA reported that one quarter of the nation's rendering plants and feed mills are not in compliance with its mad-cow regulations. It said government inspections since 1998 have shown that, among other shortcomings, many rendering plants do not have systems in place to prevent "commingling" of rendered protein from ruminants with that from other animals. Rendering plants send these materials to feed mills.

A call to Purina Mills for comment had not been returned by deadline.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - 47 CJD Cases Reported in Korea, But No Mad Cow Disease Cases

Staff Reporter

Yonhap News- Thursday 1 February 2001


Seoul, Feb.2 (Yonhap) -- The National Institute of Health (NIH) said Thursday 47 cases of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD), including suspected ones, have been reported across the country but there is no human case of v-CJD, or Mad Cow disease.

A survey of suspected CJD cases in 43 hospitals across the country since last November has tentatively confirmed 26 CJD cases. up from the 21 cases done in the 1996 survey, the institute added.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Customs Alerted on Mad Cow Disease

Staff Reporter

Chosun - Thursday 1 February 2001


Amid the mounting fears of bovine spongiform encephalitis or Mad Cow disease, officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and customhouses are striving to fight off the possible introduction of the disease. The ministry and the Korea Customs Service have suspended the import of not only cows and sheep but also related products from 30 countries including the EU. Also, they will inspect all livestock that passengers carry at international airports and ports.

MOAF held an emergency meeting with the Korea Food and Drug Administration, the KCS and the National Institute of Health to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the disease and will also investigate whether bone meal has been used in making animal feed. Meat and other dairy products from affected areas are not allowed in the nation without a quarantine certificate from the governments of exporting countries.

The Gimpo office of the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service said that it had burned 564.2kg of meat products seized from passengers at Gimpo Airport last week. Sales of beef are falling at department stores and supermarkets by 5%-10%, signaling consumers' concern about the disease.

The NIH held a press conference at MOAF Thursday and announced that no patients of variant Creutzfeldt Jacob disease, a human form of the disease have been reported as of yet. VCDJ, whose incubation period is five to ten years, is a fatal disease. Since 1996, 83 people from Britain, three from France and one from Ireland are reported to have succumbed to the disease.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Scare Grips Nation

By Nho Joon-hun

Korea Times, Staff Reporter - Thursday 1 February 2001


The nation is on alert against ``Mad Cow'' disease, which has been sweeping Europe, even though there have been few confirmed cases here.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said yesterday that it is receiving daily reports from countries where Mad Cow disease, technically know as bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), has broken out.

``One of the problems we face here in Korea is that cases of BSE, which causes Creuzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD), have been so rare that we have little experience,'' one senior ministry official said.

Once infected with BSE, usually through the consumption of animal feed, the cow's brain turns into a sponge-like mass and the neural system eventually becomes paralyzed, leading to eventual death.

For humans, similar symptoms come in the form of CJD or variant CJD with the former affecting people older than 50 and the latter those in their 20s.

Owing to the fact that symptoms only begin showing five to 10 years after initial infection, it is almost impossible to tell if people are infected until it is too late. There is no known cure for either BSE or CJD.

``We are strengthening screening procedures for beef imported from affected regions, including meat that arrives here through third countries,'' the ministry official said.

In addition to beef, the BSE- and CJD-causing prion, a type of protein derivative, is also carried in powdered milk and other dairy products, he explained.

``As part of efforts to prevent possible infection, we have placed a ban on the use of animal feed made from powered bones which is the primary source of the disease,'' the official said.

As it is, the consumption of imported beef, not only products from Europe but Australia and the United States, is on a sharp decline and even fast food outlets are feeling the effect.

At the same time, travel agencies making arrangements for European tours are going to the extent of excluding beef from their menus in the interest of their customers.

``We are working through diplomatic channels to secure the latest information on the spread of the deadly disease and taking every precautionary measure to ensure that local citizens are not infected,'' the ministry official said.

The government has already been conducting extensive testing on domestic cattle _ 600 instead of the 150 recommended by the World Health Organization _ to ensure that the animals are not infected with BSE.

Mad Cow diseases was first detected in Britain in 1985 and the first death resulting from infection occurred in 1996, showing the extent of time it takes for the prion to develop into full-blown BSE.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Korean may be having Mad Cow disease



The Star - Thursday 1 February 2001


SEOUL: South Korean health authorities suspect a 30-year-old man may be suffering from the human variant of Mad Cow disease in what would be the first case recorded outside Europe, officials said yesterday.

But the man's family has blocked any tests to confirm what illness he is suffering from, officials said.

Doctors suspect the unnamed man has variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD), the human form of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease, which scientists fear has been transmitted to humans who have eaten infected beef.

"We cannot rule out the possibility that he might have contracted vCJD as he is young and suffering from dementia,'' Choi Chul-Ho, deputy director of the National Institute of Health, said.

He said doctors could not determine the cause of his disease as relatives of the man had refused to allow further examinations.

And the authorities cannot order tests because vCJD is not yet an officially recognised contagious disease in South Korea.

But Choi added: "We have asked the health and welfare ministry to take measures so the government can carry out obligatory tests on patients suspected of contracting vCJD or CJD.''

No cases of vCJD are thought to have been recorded in Asia or North America.

However UN health experts have called for greater international precautions against the spread of Mad Cow disease.--AFP


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mass slaughter of German cows could start within a week; EU slams

By Stephen Graham, Associated Press Writer

Office.com- Thursday 1 February 2001


BERLIN (AP) _ Germany's slaughter of about 400,000 older cattle to help farmers and combat Mad Cow disease will begin in a week at the earliest after slaughterhouses bid to join the program, the Agriculture Ministry said Thursday.

Part of a Europe-wide cull, the slaughter will cost 647 million marks (dlrs 311 million), the ministry said, with the European Union contributing just under half the cost. More detailed plans will be announced next week, it said.

Germany would usually kill about 4 million cattle a year, but consumers' fear of infected beef has cut demand by half, leaving many farms saddled with unwanted cattle over 30 months old _ the age group suspected of carrying the disease and targeted in the slaughter.

The EU's top public health official criticized national governments for reacting too slowly to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, known as Mad Cow disease, and said he wants EU capitals to provide monthly reports on what they are doing to contain it.

``It is surely a matter of very great regret that this determination to tackle BSE has taken so long to emerge,'' EU Health Commissioner David Byrne told the European Parliament.

Other big European beef producers Ireland and France are also killing thousands of animals under the program.

In Spain, seven people were arrested in a probe that revealed that most cattle farmers checked in recent weeks were violating regulations on control of the disease, news reports said Thursday. Civil Guard chief Santiago Lopez Valdivielso said that out of 3,000 inspections carried out since Dec. 15, his officers had found some 2,000 infringements of regulations, the Spanish daily El Mundo reported.

The infringements included incomplete documentation of livestock, usage of prohibited feed and irregular burials of dead cows, local media said. No details were given as to what charges those arrested may face.

In Denmark, a second test showed a cow suspected of having Mad Cow disease was not infected, veterinary authorities said Thursday, but they weren't taking any chances and planned another test for verification. So far three cases of BSE have been confirmed there.

In Bulgaria, meat processors urged the government on Thursday to ban export of live cattle and thus reduce the need for beef imports that could bring BSE into the country.

Kiril Vatev, head of the Meat Processors Association, said most exports went to the Middle East where demand for Bulgarian cattle has grown because of the Mad Cow scare in the EU.

Authorities have announced they would conduct BSE tests on 1,890 animals of Bulgaria's 682,000 cattle. Veterinarians say Bulgaria is free from BSE and that its farmers do not feed animal protein to cattle, which many scientists believe can transmit the brain-destroying disease.

Scientists link the cattle disease with the human version of a brain-wasting ailment, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It has killed more than 80 people in Europe since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.

In his criticism, Byrne referred to initial government opposition to safety measures proposed by the European Commission and patchy implementation of such measures after their adoption.

Germany's agriculture and health ministers resigned earlier this month after Byrne had criticized German officials for ignoring EU warnings. Mad Cow disease was first detected in Germany last November. The number of cases has since risen to 25.

Britain and Portugal, which have had larger outbreaks of Mad Cow disease than most other EU nations, already have to present monthly reports on the application of safety measures.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - High Hopes for East Germany's 'Mad Cow Island'

By Mark John

YAHOO- Thursday 1 February 2001


INSEL RIEMS, Germany (Reuters) - Mad Cow disease is coming to a tiny island off the Baltic Sea coast of former Communist east Germany -- and it could be just what the locals are waiting for.

They hope a decision to locate all government research on the brainwasting disease at an obscure viral research institute on the island of Riems will boost efforts to turn the depressed regional economy into a leading biotechnology hub.

``Just a few months ago no one was interested in us at all,'' Thomas Mettenleiter, head of the Federal Research Centre for Animal Virus Illnesses (BFAV), a fenced-off compound which dominates a two-kilometer (one mile) long sliver of land connected to the rest of Germany by a slender causeway.

``Now things are really hotting up,'' he said of his agency's leap to prominence since last November, when the first German case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) rocked the belief here that superior hygiene standards offered immunity from it.

Until then, the agency -- whose founder Friedrich Loeffler is credited with being the first scientist in 1898 to accurately pinpoint virus behavior -- was barely known.

Leap To Prominence

Mooted by Nazi chiefs as a possible production center for biological weapons, it was spared such a fate by Hitler's defeat in World War Two, only to be stripped of most of its facilities by the occupying Red Army forces.

Its equipment was swiftly returned, however, when the Soviets realized its expertise was needed to counter an outbreak of highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease on their soil.

During the East German communist regime and the decade since unification, its work has been limited to such low-profile fields -- including an arcane specialty in the treatment of fish viruses.

But it hit headlines in December after reports that it had clearly warned government ministers of the potential risk of BSE months before the first of what are now some 25 confirmed cases.

While Mettenleiter still declines to confirm the reports, the fuss led to accusations of a cover-up which have cost two ministers their jobs and a triggered a government U-turn on agriculture and food policy.

As part of the shake-up, Riems will coordinate nationwide BSE testing of cattle and is being handed 200 million marks ($96 million) to launch a major BSE research program.

``Ultimately, we could envisage understanding how to treat it,'' Mettenleiter said of the disease, so far incurable in both its cattle and human form, the new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (nvCJD) believed to come from eating infected beef.

New Techniques

Riems is already host to a handful of cattle on the island, taken at birth from their BSE-inflicted parents. They have been spared from slaughter as part of a experiment to determine whether the disease can pass directly between animals as well as through their fodder, currently seen as the main route.

But Mettenleiter intends to go further, with plans to subject a menagerie of some 50 livestock to the disease under controlled conditions he hopes will produce new information on the ``prions,'' or faulty proteins, seen to cause BSE.

``Yes, similar work has already been carried out,'' he noted of experiments conducted by scientists in Britain since the disease swept through herds there in the 1980s.

``But we have different possibilities at our disposal now,'' he said of new techniques he said were able to locate BSE prions with greater sensitivity.

Whether the project makes any breakthroughs is still open to question. Mettenleiter concedes German knowledge of prion behavior is currently around the same stage as his predecessor Loeffler's initial explorations of viruses in the late 1800s.

But local expectations are high.

Regional officials hope advances made by Riems will benefit the biotechnology sector which they are nurturing as a future economic backbone of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the surrounding state still struggling for survival after its traditional industries collapsed during half a century of communist rule.

Around 60 biotech firms and 30 university-based life science research institutes have been set up in recent years with federal grants. Most only employ a dozen or so staff -- but with local unemployment around 25 percent, every little helps.

Moreover, with many of the local start-ups already working in farm applications, Heinrich Cuypers of the Bioregio scheme that oversees the grants says they may have just the specialist knowledge to turn BSE research into commercial applications.

``If this work led to better testing of BSE, for example, the implications for some of our firms could be big,'' he said.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - First vCJD case reported outside Europe

Ananova

PA News- Thursday 1 February 2001


South Korean health authorities have reported the first case of the human form of Mad Cow disease outside Europe.

National Institute of Health officials are awaiting lab tests to confirm the 30-year-old man has the brain-wasting Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease.

He was first struck with dementia last August and is being treated as an outpatient.

Mad Cow disease was first detected in Britain in the late 1980s. A growing number of cases of the disease have been reported in European nations.

The disease is believed to be the result of feeding grazing animals the ground-up remains of infected animals.

Since 1997 South Korea has banned imports of beef from European countries whenever a case of Mad Cow disease was found.

But the Agriculture Ministry said a total 250 tons of dried cow blood for animal feed has been imported from Germany, France and the Netherlands since 1998.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - South Korea dismisses report of vCJD case

Ananova

PA News- Thursday 1 February 2001


Doctors have played down reports that a man in South Korea has the human form of Mad Cow disease.

The scare began when an official at the country's health institute said a man was suspected of suffering from of vCJD.

But a senior doctor at the institute quickly disputed his colleague's remark.

Dr. Lee Jong-koo, head of the institute's quarantine office, said: "The man does not have the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease."

Dr Lee said the patient suffered from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has similar symptoms of the vCJD, but is unrelated to Mad Cow disease.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow scare comes to Asia

Zeno Park, Agence France-Presse

HK-Imail - Thursday 1 February 2001


SEOUL: South Korean health authorities suspect a 30-year-old man may be suffering from the human variant of Mad Cow disease in what would be the first case recorded outside Europe, officials said yesterday. But the man's family has refused to allow him to undergo further tests, and so the diagnosis is unconfirmed.

Doctors suspect the man has variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease, which scientists fear has been transmitted to humans who have eaten infected beef.

``We cannot rule out the possibility that he might have contracted vCJD as he is young and suffering from dementia,'' National Institute of Health deputy director Choi Chul Ho said. Dr Choi said

authorities cannot order further tests to be carried out on the man after his family refused to allow further examinations because vCJD is not yet an officially recognised contagious disease in South Korea.

But he added: ``We have asked the health and welfare ministry to take measures so the government can carry out obligatory tests on patients suspected of contracting vCJD or CJD.'' No cases of vCJD are thought to have been recorded in Asia or North America, but United Nations health experts have called for greater international precautions against the spread of Mad Cow disease.

The South Korean patient was admitted to hospital in August but is currently receiving out-patient care. South Korea imported dried cow and pig blood for animal feed from Europe between 1998 and last year despite the Mad Cow scare.

The World Health Organisation reported that a total of 87 vCJD cases had so far been found in the UK, three in France and one in Ireland.

They describe vCJD as ``a rare and fatal human neuro-degenerative condition'', a variant of the more common CJD that was first described in March 1996.

Unlike CJD, the new vCJD affects younger people with an average of 29 and lasts longer. The patient's brain wastes away, and by the time of death they are usually immobile and mute.

BSE in cattle first came to light in the UK in the 1990s and resulted from feeding animals the ground-up remains of their own species.

Since then growing numbers of cases of BSE have been reported among European cattle herds. A 29-year-old man died from suspected Mad Cow disease in the Russian city of Murmansk in December, medical authorities there said. The merchant seaman was thought to be the first Russian case linked to the disease.

The German government yesterday authorised the slaughter of 400,000 cows as part of an European Union (EU) programme to cull a total of two million cows over 30 months old in an effort to weed out the disease, a government spokesman said.

The decision came at the weekly government cabinet meeting, held two days after EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler warned that the European food crisis was ``considerably more dramatic that we had envisaged''.

Italian police yesterday seized 20,000 tonnes of animal meal feed, banned since December, and opened an investigation into a processing company in northern Italy where the product was made. The bone and meat meal was destined for breeders and as fertiliser.

Meanwhile in Rome, some 200 Italian butchers protested against the consequences of the Mad Cow crisis for their businesses in a rally outside the heavily guarded lower house of parliament


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Germany orders 'cynical' slaughter of 400,000 cattle

By Imre Karacs in Berlin

Independent- Thursday 1 February 2001


The German government caved in to EU pressure yesterday and ordered the destruction of 400,000 head of cattle in what it has described as a "cynical" response to the broadening BSE crisis.

Courtesy of German and European tax-payers, farmers will be paid about DM1,000 (£325) for each animal they sacrifice on the altar of the collapsing beef market. Every carcass will be tested for BSE and incinerated, whatever the result.

The mass slaughter, part of EU-wide measures against BSE, has provoked outrage in Germany, where it is widely seen as a way to help farmers rather than protect consumers.

The debate reached fever pitch when Markus Vogt of the Catholic Bishops' Conference slammed the plan as "a real cattle Holocaust". That in turn triggered protests from the Jewish community, forcing the Catholics to apologise.

The scheme was also opposed by Renate Künast, the new Green Agriculture Minister. Ms Künast clashed with her EU counterparts in Brussels on Monday, but lost the argument.

German Greens argue that the animals likely to be offered by farmers for the pyre are older cows which would, in any case, have been tested for BSE. The German government is more worried about younger animals that can escape mandatory testing, because the EU rules already prescribe tests for cows that are at least 30 months old. Ms Künast therefore extended compulsory BSE tests yesterday for animals as young as 24 months.

Germany discovered the first case of BSE in its domestic herd only last November. Since then, beef consumption has halved. As the industry faced ruin, farmers threatened to herd their cattle on to the motorways in protest, and slaughter houses began to close.

Now they are back in business. The country'sabattoirs will have to work overtime to complete the task by June. Farmers will be paid DM4 per kilogram of meat, about a third higher than the current market price. The slaughter is expected to start in three weeks, although the government has yet to solve the problem of how so much meat is to be burnt.

Ms Künast also finds herself at loggerheads with Europe's agricultural lobby on other fronts. After the discovery of widescale abuse of drugs given to Bavarian pigs, she pushed for an EU-wide ban on antibiotics in pig fodder, but to no avail.

She is due to unveil her programme to foster organic farming next week. But as her setbacks on BSE and pork have shown, even a country as powerful as Germany has a tough job asserting itself on the European farming establishment.


01 Feb 01 - CJD - 'CJD in blood' sparks therapy boycott

James Meikle, health correspondent

Guardian- Thursday 1 February 2001


The government was last night facing the embarrassing prospect of a "treatment strike" by growing numbers of haemophiliacs seeking to shame ministers into paying for safer blood clotting agents.

As the government sought to calm protests over the way haemophiliacs, as late as 1997, had been exposed to potential infection from the human form of BSE, the Department of Health said patients should first consult their GPs.

People with haemophilia are furious that for the third time in just over three years patients are being told that they have used products that have been found to include material from a variant CJD victim.

The news, first reported in the Guardian this month, has forced ministers to consider whether to give adult haemophiliacs in England access to laboratory-made alternatives, as happened for children in Britain, and for adults in both Scotland and Wales.

The Haemophilia Society said it had heard more patients were refusing treatment with clotting factor from human sources and joining networks that allow patients who do get the synthetic type, called recombinant, to send part of their dose to others without it.

This is almost certainly illegal. But one patient who did this in the autumn forced his local health authority to pay for the more expensive recombinant factor.

Karin Pappenheim, director of the Haemophilia Society, said it was not clear how many people might be affected by the postcode lottery over access to clotting treatment, but it could be as high as 2000.

The government ordered the import of most blood plasma products two years ago because of the theoretical risk of infection by donors who had vCJD. Thirteen of the 88 known vCJD victims had been blood donors. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that the risk of vCJD from existing clotting factors was "unsubstantiated".


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Halt Operations

By Malcolm Bennie

The Courier - Thursday 1 February 2001


Tayside University Hospitals Trust has suspended all routine tonsillectomy operations after fears that their surgical equipment could transmit the human form of Mad Cow disease to patients.

The drastic move means that over 160 patients from across Tayside and north-east Fife, who are currently on the waiting list for the operation, will be left in limbo.

Senior Ninewells clinical staff quickly moved to allay the fears of recent patients, saying the risks were extremely low, but advised further consultation to those seriously alarmed.

All the operations are carried out at Dundee's Ninewells Hospital and the suspension will last until modern single-use equipment becomes available.

The trust's decision follows the advice of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngologists, which stated that it was no longer acceptable to continue with routine surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids.

So far, high-level research suggests the risk of transmission of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from contaminated surgical instruments is extremely unlikely, but the trust has taken a strictly safety-first stance on the issue.

Lymphoid tissue, such as tonsils, is widely known to have high levels of the infective agent that causes vCJD and remains unharmed by conventional sterilisation techniques.

The only exception to the ban will be emergency surgery where there is malignancy, or an obstruction to the airways. In these cases, it is felt the benefit of surgery outweighs the risks of possible infection.

The TUHT performs approximately 340 tonsillectomies every year, and those patients whose surgery has been cancelled will be immediately placed on a special waiting list.

Their surgery will be reinstated as soon as the trust has single-use instruments available, but early indications suggest this could be autumn.

Surgeon Paul White, clinical leader for ENT services at the trust, said, "Early this year, the Department of Health announced the NHS would be moving to single-use instruments for tonsillectomies.

"Since then, we have considered our situation here at the trust, and talked to colleagues nationally, and we feel that, because we know so little about the actual risk of transmission of vCJD, we cannot continue with routine surgery."

He added that the NHS Purchase and Supply Agency was working hard to negotiate the supply of single-use equipment but delays were inevitable given the high level of demand across the country.

Mr White added that patients who have recently undergone tonsillectomies, or adenoidectomies, should not worry unduly about the risks to themselves, as the suspension relates to fears over the equipment rather than evidence of any ill effects to patients. However, anyone with concerns over their recent operation should contact their surgeon.

A Scottish Executive spokesperson said, "This is not an easy decision for people to make in the absence of any hard data on the risk from vCJD, and surgeons, patients and parents may understandably choose to wait until the single-use instruments become available for non-emergency procedures.

"We are working with surgeons and manufacturers with a view to introducing single-use instruments as quickly as possible so that doctors and patients no longer have to face this dilemma."


01 Feb 01 - CJD - Regulators See No Mad Cow Panic in U.S. Yet

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

YAHOO- Thursday 1 February 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Officials and top scientists said on Wednesday they see no reason for panic in the United States over Mad Cow disease despite reports of contaminated animal feed and imported candy.

Instead of dismissing such reports, however, they said they welcome them because they help regulators figure out where the potential for ``human error'' lies.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is being found in herds across Europe, exciting worries that people may get a human version of the fatal, brain-destroying disease from eating or using products made from the cattle.

Nearly 90 people in Britain and France have died from or been diagnosed with the human version, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

But experts said American consumers should not worry about getting vCJD from eating beef products -- including a wide range of medicines, candies, capsules and other food products made with gelatin.

``The Texas cattle thing is a non-event. The candy in New York thing is a non-event,'' Paul Brown, a researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) who has done extensive work on BSE and related diseases, said in a telephone interview.

Late on Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said 1,200 cattle in a Texas feedlot had been fed the ground-up remains of other cattle -- which violates safety regulations.

But the FDA said Purina Mills Inc., which supplied the feed, would buy the cattle and would not use them for human food.

BSE has never been detected in the United States, the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) both say. The banned feed used in Texas contained U.S. cattle parts.

And the FDA said the amount of feed the cattle got was so small that, even had it been contaminated with BSE -- which they do not think it was -- none of the cows that ate it would have been likely to become infected.

The FDA said it was investigating a report that some imported German candy sold in New York may have been made with gelatin coming from German cattle at risk of BSE. Again, FDA officials and Brown said they doubted anyone who ate the candy was in danger.

``Gelatin is made from hooves and hides, which don't carry any BSE anyway,'' Brown said.

Murray Lumpkin, senior medical adviser in the FDA commissioner's office, said he did not think anyone was panicking just yet, despite media coverage of Mad Cow fears.

``People Need To Be Serious''

``I don't think there is a matter of overreacting in the sense that people need to be serious about it,'' Lumpkin said in a telephone interview.

``If we are going to have any chance of keeping BSE out of the country, we as regulators, the rendered feed lot operators and so on are going to have to redouble efforts,'' he added.

``When you have incidents like this it gives you the opportunity to determine how this happened and whether it was due to random human error. We are going to have some of that because people are not 100 percent perfect,'' Lumpkin added.

The infectious protein that transmits BSE, known as a prion, has been found in the brains, spinal cords, lymph nodes, lower intestines, eyes and a few other parts of animals.

These parts are included in meat and bone meal (MBM) used in feed and in some food products such as sausages.

When BSE swept through British herds in the 1980s and then was found to cause vCJD, U.S. officials worked to make sure it could not be imported here.

No livestock may be imported into the United States from countries affected by BSE. People who have lived in affected countries for a certain period may not donate blood, which carries a slight risk of transmitting BSE.

But there is a huge pool of other products that potentially could carry the BSE agent, such as gelatin, extracts from cattle used in supplements, blood products and so on.

``When you start looking at products that have bovine parts in them, you find that we as a culture have learned to use the cow quite well,'' Lumpkin said.

Brown serves on a committee that advises on how to raise barriers to dangerous imports and prevent any risky use of animal products that might transmit BSE or its cousins to people or to valuable livestock.

``I think the USDA has done a pretty good job and as near as I can tell it is not being breached very often or very easily,'' Brown said.

But cattle prices on Tuesday took a big hit. Cattle futures at Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell to a two-week low.

beef consumption in Germany has plunged 30 percent and has fallen 70 percent in Italy, where the country's first native case of Mad Cow disease was reported earlier this month.