Document Directory

30 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease task force to form
30 Mar 01 - CJD - Rising cowhide prices force tannery to dismiss workers
30 Mar 01 - CJD - Sealed Air results hurt by Europe's livestock ailments
30 Mar 01 - CJD - Gucci hit by outbreak of livestock disease
30 Mar 01 - CJD - Scotland and the North have highest rate of vCJD
30 Mar 01 - CJD - When Things Go From Bad To Worse
30 Mar 01 - CJD - Diet Does Not Explain Regional CJD Differences
30 Mar 01 - CJD - Cape butchers see no threat from European diseases
29 Mar 01 - CJD - Sheep may be carrying seed of fresh CJD crisis
29 Mar 01 - CJD - Suspect symptoms
29 Mar 01 - CJD - Thinking of the Filipino palate amid Mad Cow disease scare
29 Mar 01 - CJD - Texas officials to kill 21 cattle, test them for Mad Cow disease
29 Mar 01 - CJD - 5,000 products altered as Mad Cow safeguard
29 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease's shadow lengthens
29 Mar 01 - CJD - Beef sales remain stagnant
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Meat is still on the menu, but concern grows
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Kane's overseas disease unease
28 Mar 01 - CJD - 'Mad sheep' slaughtered in the US
28 Mar 01 - CJD - CJD fear paralysis as tonsil ops wait for instruments
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Belgium finds Mad Cow cases
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Bush sees livestock diseases as security issue
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Call to assess British study on BSE
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Leather trade hit by BSE
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Boosts Organic Farming...But Shoppers May Balk at the Prices
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow rumors scare CME futures traders Friday
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Shanghai goes genetic in Mad Cow prevention
28 Mar 01 - CJD - Italy's Mad Cow Cases Rise to Nine
25 Mar 01 - CJD - Texas cattle face euthanasia over Mad Cow concerns
25 Mar 01 - CJD - U.S. thinks sheep may carry Mad Cow variant



30 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease task force to form

Lee Egerstrom Staff Writer

Pioneer Planet--Friday 30 March 2001


State and federal agriculture and animal health officials agreed to form a task force to coordinate efforts to keep Europe's Mad Cow disease from coming to Minnesota cattle herds, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

Various agencies have had contingency plans since 1996 and 1997, but the new task force will work to keep each group informed of each other's activities and be ready to cooperate if Mad Cow finds its way to the United States, said a department spokesman.

About 90 people have died from a brain-wasting disease in the United Kingdom that is linked to the cattle disease.

Joining in the new effort are the state department, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Health, the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine, the federal Food and Drug Administration and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Representatives of Minnesota's beef and dairy industries will be invited to join the task force when it schedules meetings in April, said department spokesman Michael Schommer. Kevin Elfering, meat inspection supervisor for the department, is heading the task force.

Representatives of the agencies have met during the past week and all agencies agreed Thursday to cooperate in the venture, Schommer said. A big part of the task force's efforts will be to educate farmers and processors about Mad Cow, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), and how it can be avoided, he added.

This action was announced while Dr. Tom Hagerty, state veterinarian, was in Washington on Thursday for meetings with state and federal animal health officials on the threat of foot-and-mouth disease, a far more contagious disease to livestock that is also found in Europe.

The two diseases are not related.

Foot-and-mouth spreads rapidly to livestock and wild animals that have hooves. Extraordinary precautions are being taken to keep travelers and imported goods from accidentally bringing the virus into North America.

BSE, or Mad Cow disease, is believed to be less a threat to animals. But a variant of the disease, called Creutzfeld Jakob Disease, is fatal to humans. Other variants of spongiform encephalopathy are found in sheep, elk and deer herds.

While it isn't scientifically proven that the diseases can cross from one species to another, the outbreak of Mad Cow in the United Kingdom is suspected of causing the human disease. Butchering practices in the UK and feeding bone meal to livestock between 10 and 20 years ago may have caused the outbreak in humans.

Use of meat and bone meal made from cows and sheep in cattle feed is banned in the United States, and has since been banned throughout most of the world. But since BSE is tied to a misshapen protein, not a viral or bacterial contagion, Schommer said health officials are taking no chances that Mad Cow can be contained in Europe.


30 Mar 01 - CJD - Rising cowhide prices force tannery to dismiss workers

By Larry Grard, Staff Writer

MaineToday.com--Friday 30 March 2001


Layoffs due to mad-cow

HARTLAND - Skyrocketing cowhide prices related to mad-cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease have forced Irving Tanning Co. to make layoffs at its Hartland tannery, a company official said Thursday.

Irving officials told employees Thursday morning that between 12 and 20 workers will be laid off.

Workers at Irving Tanning Company, in Hartland, return to work Thursday afternoon. Richard C. Larochelle, president and chief executive officer, also said the company is considering seeking protection from its creditors.

Paul Larochelle, vice president for operations, said the price of hides has risen about 66 percent in recent months. He said the price hikes coincided with the spread of mad-cow disease, a brain disorder that also contaminates the meat. Another affliction, foot-and-mouth disease, made things even worse, he said.

"Foot-and-mouth disease (also known as hoof-and-mouth disease) is fuel on the fire," Paul Larochelle said.

Both diseases are highly contagious, according to experts. Because of the diseases, cattle by the thousands are being burned in Europe, greatly depleting the world's cowhide supply.

Irving Tanning does not buy hides from Europe, Larochelle said, but the lost hides overseas are creating a worldwide leather shortage.

Harland M. Braun & Co., worldwide supplier of raw cattle hides, has reported that foot-and-mouth outbreaks have created panic buying.

"The fear of shortages caused tanners everywhere in the world to look seriously at buying more American hides," Braun wrote recently. "This increase in demand forced prices higher."

Braun has predicted prices will not retreat anytime soon and might go even higher.

Richard Larochelle emphasized that layoffs at Irving, by far the largest employer in Hartland, are not unusual. He said the company employed as many as 525 workers last summer, and has had as few as 360.

"(The layoffs) will be hardly noticeable. It's not a lot of jobs," he said. "There isn't a major restructuring or major layoffs taking place at Irving Tanning."

Richard Larochelle acknowledged, however, that Irving might seek protection from creditors under U.S. bankruptcy code.

"We're working with our lenders and we might (file) before a while," Larochelle said. "We're looking to restructure our debt into equity so the company can stay sound."

Larochelle said Irving incurred significant debt when the company changed hands three years ago.

Graham-Field Health Products, which acquired Irving's parent company, Fuqua Enterprises, in late 1997, announced in January 1998 it was reselling Fuqua's leather operations. The leather division includes Irving Tanning.

The buyers in the $68 million sale were managers of Fuqua's leather operations, including Richard Larochelle. Irving, thus, returned to private ownership after many years as part of a publicly held company.

Workers at Irving process partially tan cowhides for use in everything from shoes to jackets to upholstery for furniture and automobiles.

At its peak, the leather industry in Maine employed 45,000 people, according to reports.

But a decline began when the shoe and leather industry transferred much of its production overseas.

By the late 1970s and 1980s, Irving had fallen behind in plant and equipment investment, according to news accounts. In 1989, controlling interest in the company was sold to the Fuqua family of Atlanta.

Four years later, a modernization plan was adopted that reportedly made Irving one of the largest and most technologically advanced tanneries in the world.


30 Mar 01 - CJD - Sealed Air results hurt by Europe's livestock ailments

Reuters

YAHOO--Friday 30 March 2001


1 SADDLE BROOK, N.J., March 30 (Reuters) - Specialty packing products maker Sealed Air Corp. on Friday said its first-quarter results would be lower than expected as beef consumption and meat supply falls in Europe because of the foot-and-mouth and Mad Cow disease outbreaks.

Sealed Air, which derives a large portion of its revenue from food packaging systems and materials sold worldwide, said it now expects to earn 35 cents to 40 cents per share in the first quarter. It said sales will be essentially flat with last year's $716.6 million, when it earned 48 cents per share.

Analysts on average had been expecting the company to earn 47 cents per share in the first quarter, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

The Saddle Brook, N.J.-based company also said high energy and raw materials costs were cutting into profits, too.

Its results may be affected beyond the first quarter, with profits for the year potentially falling below forecasts, it said. Analysts had been expecting it to earn $2.12 per share this year, according to First Call.

MEAT SUPPLY DISRUPTION MAY HURT EARNINGS THROUGHOUT 2001

"The continuing disruption in meat supply and consumption and the sluggish global economy are likely to adversely affect our results beyond the first quarter," Sealed Air President and Chief Executive Officer William Hickey said in a statement. "In view of these external factors, our results for the remainder of 2001 may not reach our previously stated outlook."

In 2000 it earned $2 per share on revenue of more than $3 billion.

European agri-business has taken a double hit as its livestock exports to many parts of the world have been restricted because of the two diseases. Mad Cow disease has been a concern for several years but fears about the safety of the meat supply were exacerbated by the foot-and-mouth outbreak that began in February.

As of Friday, 793 cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been confirmed in Europe, the vast majority of them in mainland Britain. About half a million head of livestock have been destroyed in the effort to contain its spread.

OTHER U.S. COMPANIES ALSO HURT BY EUROPEAN CATTLE AILMENTS

Sealed Air is not the first U.S. company to warn that the disease may hurt results.

Fast-food giant McDonald's Corp. said earlier this month its first-quarter results would suffer because of the European meat scare.

And last week, Texas-based farm equipment maker Alamo Group Inc. said it was concerned about the potential effect on its results unless there was a timely resolution to the outbreaks.

Alamo's concerns were echoed by Deer & Co. , the world's largest farm equipment maker, which said it is monitoring the foot-and-mouth outbreaks for signs that it would hurt farmers' incomes, which would likely have an effect on machinery sales. Deere already has lowered production because the slowing world economy and bad weather have hurt orders.

Also, footwear maker Timberland Co. said the resulting increase in leather prices could hurt its profits this year.

Sealed Air shares closed Thursday at $35.70 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has a 52-week range of $26.38 to $59.50.


30 Mar 01 - CJD - Gucci hit by outbreak of livestock disease

By Caroline Brothers

YAHOO--Friday 30 March 2001


PARIS (Reuters) - Mad Cow disease and the foot-and-mouth epidemic plaguing Europe are causing sleepless nights in an unexpected quarter -- the continent's most exclusive luxury leather goods firms.

The double dose of sickness felling cattle in Britain and increasingly across Europe is worrying designer shoe and handbag makers like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermes, as leather prices rise and quality supplies diminish.

Successive beef scares have forced a slump in European meat consumption, which means fewer beasts for the slaughterhouse and consequently for the tanners who buy their hides.

"The Mad Cow crisis and the foot-and-mouth epidemic are bringing us serious disruptions," said Jean-Paul Vivier, director of leather goods and fashion at Louis Vuitton, a division of luxury goods giant LVMH that has seen insatiable demand for leather accessories fuel exponential profit growth.

"A 30 to 35 percent reduction in meat consumption (in France) is bringing a shortage of available raw hides, and in practice we could very well envisage significant price rises."

The industry would be in serious trouble if meat eating dropped by half, he added.

"Yes I'm worried, it's not good news," said the chief executive for leather at a rival luxury goods house.

"We don't really know the impact, and today we can't see anything except the prices going up, but we are saying: 'What if...?' We are trying to get information from everywhere."

Prices for raw calf hides shot up 70 percent between January 2000 and February 2001, as the Mad Cow crisis affected supplies and demand continued to rise, according to Jean-Claude Ricomard, president of the Federation of French Tanners.

That has driven up the cost of the kid-soft ready-tanned hides which luxury makers buy by 25 to 35 percent, he added.

And that means prices for fashion fiends are also on the rise.

"Prices to the consumer have gone up between seven and 10 percent," said Francois Belot, second in command at Le Tanneur, a luxury leather goods maker that is 27 percent-owned by LVMH.

THE PRICE OF CROCODILE SKIN

"We will try to absorb the increase, but if it continues, eventually we will be forced to pass the rises on," said Vivier.

LVMH, which spends 500 million francs ($68 million) a year buying leather from around 20 European suppliers said it was drawing down stocks to limit costs to clients.

Over at Florentine design house Gucci, spokesman Tomaso Galli said the rock-star glam fashion group that produces 3.5 million leather items a year, including 300,000 pairs of shoes, has enough supplies for this year.

The same is true at France's Hermes, which employs 1,000 people in its leather workshops in France.

But tanners only buy up to six months in advance and scenes of cattle being incinerated in Britain have sparked fears that finding next year's supplies may prove more of a headache.

"If suddenly the price of calf leather exceeded that of crocodile, then we would all be in trouble," said one luxury leather chief.


30 Mar 01 - CJD - Scotland and the North have highest rate of vCJD

Reuters

YAHOO--Friday 30 March 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Northern England and Scotland have the highest incidence of the human form of Mad Cow disease but scientists said on Friday they had no idea why.

Eighty-five people had been confirmed as having the fatal brain wasting disease by November 2000 when researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine began their study. The number has since risen to 95.

Simon Cousens and his colleagues found that Scotland had the highest number of cases of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) per million people, followed by northern England, north-west England and Yorkshire and Humberside.

They had hoped that the different patterns of the disease across the country could help to explain the transmission route of the illness from animals to humans, which scientists suspect is through eating meat contaminated with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow disease.

"We had difficulty determining whether regional variations in diet might cause these differences, since the results of dietary analysis were inconsistent," Cousens said in the study published in The Lancet medical journal.

Last week an inquiry into a cluster of vCJD deaths in the village of Queniborough in Leicestershire said local butchering practices were the most likely cause of the deaths from the degenerative brain disease.

Experts believe local butchers may have unwittingly contaminated meat with bovine brain material during the boning and cutting process.

"Given the recent findings from Leicestershire, we would ideally like to know not just what people ate, but how it was prepared in the abattoirs and butcher's shop. We need to keep an open mind about other factors unrelated to diet," Cousens added.

Scientists first identified vCJD in 1996. The illness is caused by a mutant form of a natural brain protein that causes the brain to become spongy. Patients with the incurable illness gradually lose their co-ordination and speech and die.

Because of the long incubation period, which scientists say can be up to 30 years, it is impossible to predict how many people may develop it. Estimates range from thousands to hundreds of thousands over the coming years.


30 Mar 01 - CJD - When Things Go From Bad To Worse

Staff Reporter

Clare Champion--Friday 30 March 2001


There seems to be a general malaise over the country just now. Maybe it is the threat of Foot and Mouth disease on top of CJD. Maybe it is that the Northern problem still seemingly perpetuates with daily reports of knee-capping, murder and other crimes against humans. Maybe it is because there has been a build-up of uncompleted work.

Our own daily lives have not escaped the malaise. We have had major computer problems. Our fax machine won't work properly. Telephone callers have been annoyed that I haven't undertaken their requests even for big money. A tyre for my car has taken weeks as also a part for the press-button key. My Dublin insurance company's Limerick base had no appropriate forms when I drove in specially. People have been ringing for personal help and there have been other major factors which make for discomfort.

Most of them are due to the behaviour or circumstances of others. It makes one's busy life all the more frustrating, especially as this morning I have correspondence to answer about the mess at Fanore last year and other unpleasant environmental issues and we have just received news of having lost potential income of £250 next week because of tourist cancellations due to Foot and Mouth disease.

Phew! And that is only the half of it!

However, "hold tight," says 1. The Celtic tiger is one "up" in a history of "ups" and "downs" and history has this knack of repeating itself. Somehow the human race seems to survive.

It is the "downs" which take their toll. They may bring us all to our knees, but they may well curb the gathering rush of suicidal anti-environmental behaviour caused through an abundance of money which translates into huge gerry-built housing estates, vast areas of concrete parking space outside extra large industrial complexes, dangerously high erosions of gasses from internal combustion engines, fossil-fuelled generating stations, our fear of leaking nuclear fuel from neighbouring electricity stations, the wholesale slaughter of diseased animals or whatever.

Add our blind rush into a pool of self indulgence and complacency which leads people to endanger their communities by walking over farmland when asked not to, or by permitting huge gatherings such as race meetings and ice hockey matches attended by thousands to continue.

Only this morning someone told me of a Limerick cinema with no disinfectant pads, and yet with up to six hundred patrons coming from farms throughout the area. Even when I had to visit a leading Limerick hotel two days ago, the almost dry and ridiculously small disinfected mat seemed obviously a mere gesture. The mind boggles.

Enough. That history I mentioned reminds me that if it repeats itself, we will indeed pull out of all our concerns and create, once again, maybe a Celtic oak in appreciation of our determination, solidity and solidarity.

Certainly spring repeats itself and at this time of year we see our birds fluttering their sexy dances and "feathering" their nests with twigs or whatever. If our Creator wasn't good, we would have gone under long years ago, but we need that hope and faith which is necessary to help us overcome life's problems.

We can survive Foot and Mouth but we must all play our parts to ensure the disease doesn't spread any more on this island. This requires more responsibility and an all out effort to ensure every precaution is taken by everybody.

BLACK SPOT

Those who, in spite of government and other warnings are dicing with danger by not complying with the need for precautions during the foot and mouth crisis.

GOOD MARK

Sensible people who rally behind the efforts to ensure that more animals don't have to be slaughtered and that wild creatures don't succumb.

WEEKS TIP

Realise that you, as one of this nation's individuals, hold the key to our future and to that of the environment in which we live.


30 Mar 01 - CJD - Diet Does Not Explain Regional CJD Differences

By Merritt McKinney

YAHOO--Friday 30 March 2001


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Regional differences in diet probably do not explain why the human form of ``Mad Cow'' disease is more common in the north of Great Britain than in the south, researchers report.

The fatal brain-wasting illness, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), may be linked to the consumption of meat from cows infected with Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Previous research unexpectedly found that cases of the disease were nearly twice as common in northern England and in Scotland than in the southern region of Great Britain. In an analysis of 84 cases of vCJD diagnosed by November 2000, Dr. Simon Cousens of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues, found a similar pattern.

The investigators found that the towns where people with the disease lived did not appear to be poorer or more affluent than the nation as a whole, suggesting that regional variations in cases of the disease were not due to socioeconomic difference between the regions. Five of the cases were clustered in the city of Leicestershire. A recent report linked those cases to a local butcher, who may have used a riskier technique while slaughtering cows.

Suspecting that regional variations in diet--particularly the types of meat consumed--might account for at least some of the difference, Cousens' team compared the geographic distribution of 84 vCJD cases with two different dietary surveys. The findings are published in the March 31st issue of the medical journal The Lancet.

In one of the surveys, consumption of ground meat products was not higher in the north than in the south. Northern inhabitants did eat more meat pies and meat pastries than people living in the south, but southerners ate more burgers and kebabs. Such products may be more likely to contain spinal cord tissue--which is thought to be riskier in terms of transmitting the disease from animals to humans.

The other survey, however, did detect a link between vCJD cases and higher consumption of potentially infectious types of meat.

Since the time the study was conducted, however, some research suggests that ``it may not always be the type of food people ate that is important, but the circumstances in which it was prepared in the butcher's shop,'' Cousens told Reuters Health.

One area for further study, he said, is butchery practices in the 1980s to see whether there were any regional differences. But Cousens cautioned that answering these questions after such a long period of time would be difficult.

Genetics may offer one possible explanation for regional differences in the number of vCJD cases, according to Cousens. Some research in mice has suggested that genetic differences may affect the incubation period of the disease--the time between infection and the development of symptoms. But Cousens stressed that a genetic cause is only a hypothesis that needs to be tested.

SOURCE: The Lancet 2001;357:1002-1007.


30 Mar 01 - CJD - Cape butchers see no threat from European diseases

By John Leaning, Staff Writer

Cape Cod Times--Friday 30 March 2001


WEST BARNSTABLE - It's the middle of lambing season at Knot-a-Thot farm on Willow Street.

But while farm owner Toni Malouf is happy about her new lambs, there is fear behind the joy, fear that the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease now raging through livestock herds in Great Britain could reach the Cape.

"It's scary, very scary, because of what might happen if an outbreak occurs in this country," Malouf said yesterday, fresh from the barn where one of her ewes had just given birth to twins.

The virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease, so-named because the infection produces painful, blisterlike sores in the mouths and hooves of the animals infected, is not dangerous to people. It mostly affects cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, sheep and cattle.

That is in stark contrast to another animal-borne disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, and more commonly known as Mad Cow disease.

"The big difference is, (Mad Cow) is devastating. It's going to kill you," said George Saperstein, a large-animal veterinarian and chairman of the Department of Environmental and Population Health at Tufts University's School of Veterinary Medicine.

People who become infected with the human form of this deadly disease always die from a brain-wasting ailment.

Ninety-two cases of Mad Cow disease in humans have been documented - 88 in the United Kingdom, three in France and one in Ireland - the federal Food and Drug Administration has reported. Farmers have been forced to slaughter herds of cows, sheep and pigs while European travelers have been forced to meet strict guidelines and quarantines to prevent the spread of the disease.

Both diseases have laid waste to livestock in England, France and Ireland in recent weeks but so far there has been no outbreak in the United States.

Since 1989, the U.S. government has barred the importation of any live cows or sheep from countries where the disease has been identified. And, since 1997, imports of sheep and cattle from all European nations has been halted. No meat or meat byproducts from countries known to have Mad Cow disease are permitted into the United States.

Questions, but still buying

At meat markets on Cape Cod, butchers said that while some customers have asked questions about both diseases, most have not curtailed their meat purchases.

"No one is panicking. But it does scare people, and it's not something to laugh about," said Rick Backus, a butcher for 30 years and owner of the Orleans Butcher Shop on Route 6A.

He estimated that out of his 400 to 500 regular customers, five or 10 have asked him questions about the diseases.

A few make jokes.

"Men joke more. You know, 'Gimme a steak, and easy on the Mad Cow,'" he said.

At Dennis Public Market, where signs proudly announce certified Black Angus beef behind the butcher counter, butcher Albino Mendez echoed Backus.

He said meat sales remain strong, and he has seen no switch to other meats, such as poultry or pork.

Tufts veterinarian Saperstein said in this country he would be more concerned about food safety involving more common infections.

"To me, (Mad Cow) is at the bottom of the list regarding food safety. The real risk is more from common, garden varieties like salmonella or E. coli.

"If I eat at a fast-food restaurant, I'd be more concerned about if the teenager washed his hands after using the bathroom before he made the hamburger than the hamburger meat," he said.

Travelers not shying from Europe

Just as beef-eaters appear unconcerned about tainted meat, so too do Cape travelers making plans for springtime European trips, including visits to the British Isles.

"Obviously it's causing a lot of concern and questions," said Fran Dattalo, owner of Bradshaw Travel Service in Chatham.

He said tour companies routinely review itineraries, switching stops around if there is a problem.

So far, no prebooked tours have been canceled because of concerns about Mad Cow or foot-and-mouth diseases, he said.

"I've had zero cancellations," said Jennifer McMullen a travel consultant and manager of the Timbuktu Travel Agency in Orleans.

"I have had people concerned about where they're going, and should they eat the beef. The logical thing to do is watch your diet," she said, adding that tour companies are actively allaying concerns of travelers.

"In countries with (Mad Cow), do not go near a hamburger. Something like that is not something the consumer has any control over," advised Dr. Michael McGuill, the state public health veterinarian with the Department of Public Health.

He said people should not be overly concerned about beef products in this country, since "there has been absolutely no evidence of either (foot-and-mouth or BSE) in this country. And there has been a lot of work to look for them," he said.

People can be unwitting carriers

As for the risk of the foot-and-mouth disease reaching our shores, farm animal experts agree that the greatest threat to U.S. stocks now is from innocent visitors from countries where the infection is rampant.

"If you have livestock, you should be concerned about visitors," Saperstein said.

That's why visitors from infected countries are urged to wash closes and wipe shoes thoroughly, and told to stay away from any farms for at least five days. Some agricultural centers are canceling visits by Europeans to prevent exposure.

Although the virus is not dangerous to humans, people can be the unwitting carriers of the virus, which can travel on shoes, in people's nostrils and on the wind up to 100 miles, Saperstein said.

Malouf said all of her animals - including 40 sheep, 25 llamas and 15 Angora goats - are domestic, so the threat to them would come from across the ocean.

She had planned to open the farm, where she does her own spinning and weaving, to visitors this spring.

"Until this thing is considered peaked, I'd be tempted to keep visitors away from where the animals are. Maybe I'll have a foot bath," she said.

Malouf said a friend in West Barnstable who raises border collies has called international judges coming from England, Scotland and Wales, and politely asked them not to come, for fear of what they might bring with them.


29 Mar 01 - CJD - Sheep may be carrying seed of fresh CJD crisis

Associated Press

YAHOO--Thursday 29 March 2001


Researchers have accidentally stumbled onto a link between the sheep-borne disease scrapie and sporadic CJD (sCJD) in humans, sparking fears of a slumbering crisis.

While studying human variant CJD (vCJD), scientists from the French Atomic Energy Commission found that one strain of scrapie causes the same brain damage in mice as sCJD.

A group of campaigners claims that some sCJD is caused by eating meat from infected animals, in a similar way to the CJD related to BSE.

Each year up to 60 people die from sCJD in the UK. In the US, the figure tops 250.

Dr Jean-Phillipe Deslys, of the commission's medical research laboratory near Paris, said, "[The findings] mean we cannot rule out that at least some sCJD may be caused by some strains of scrapie."

Most doctors think sCJD is caused by a prion protein that assumes a lethal form completely by chance.

Until now there has been no evidence that scrapie can pose a risk to human health.

In their study, Dr Deslys and his team injected the brains of macaque monkeys with brain tissue from cattle infected with BSE and from human vCJD patients. Brain damage and clinical symptoms were the same in all the monkeys as a result of the injections.

As a control experiment the team injected mice with brain tissue from people and animals with other prion diseases, including French and US strains of scrapie and cases of sCJD. They found, to their surprise, that the French strain of scrapie produced exactly the same damage as sCJD.

Moira Bruce, a member of Dr Deslys' team, said, "The main evidence that scrapie does not affect humans has been epidemiology."

She said that epidemiology would not be able to indicate a link in light of the fact that there are 20 different strains of scrapie and six of sCJD. She is cautious about the mouse results, but said that they require further investigation.

A report on the research appears in this week's New Scientist magazine.


29 Mar 01 - CJD - Suspect symptoms

Staff Reporter

New Scientist--Thursday 29 March 2001


What if you can catch old-fashioned CJD by eating meat from a sheep infected with scrapie?

Four years ago, Terry Singeltary watched his mother die horribly from a degenerative brain disease. Doctors told him it was Alzheimer's, but Singeltary was suspicious. The diagnosis didn't fit her violent symptoms, and he demanded an autopsy. It showed she had died of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Most doctors believe that sCJD is caused by a prion protein deforming by chance into a killer. But Singeltary thinks otherwise.

He is one of a number of campaigners who say that some sCJD, like the variant CJD related to BSE, is caused by eating meat from infected animals. Their suspicions have focused on sheep carrying scrapie, a BSE-like disease that is widespread in flocks across Europe and North America.

Now scientists in France have stumbled across new evidence that adds weight to the campaigners' fears. To their complete surprise, the researchers found that one strain of scrapie causes the same brain damage in mice as sCJD.

"This means we cannot rule out that at least some sCJD may be caused by some strains of scrapie," says team member Jean-Philippe Deslys of the French Atomic Energy Commission's medical research laboratory in Fontenay-aux-Roses, south-west of Paris.

Hans Kretschmar of the University of Göttingen, who coordinates CJD surveillance in Germany, is so concerned by the findings that he now wants to trawl back through past sCJD cases to see if any might have been caused by eating infected mutton or lamb.

Brain damage

Scrapie has been around for centuries and until now there has been no evidence that it poses a risk to human health. But if the French finding means that scrapie can cause sCJD in people, countries around the world may have overlooked a CJD crisis to rival that caused by BSE.

Deslys and colleagues were originally studying vCJD, not sCJD. They injected the brains of macaque monkeys with brain from BSE cattle, and from French and British vCJD patients. The brain damage and clinical symptoms in the monkeys were the same for all three. Mice injected with the original sets of brain tissue or with infected monkey brain also developed the same symptoms.

As a control experiment, the team also injected mice with brain tissue from people and animals with other prion diseases: a French case of sCJD; a French patient who caught sCJD from human-derived growth hormone; sheep with a French strain of scrapie; and mice carrying a prion derived from an American scrapie strain.

As expected, they all affected the brain in a different way from BSE and vCJD. But while the American strain of scrapie caused different damage from sCJD, the French strain produced exactly the same pathology.

Multiple strains

"The main evidence that scrapie does not affect humans has been epidemiology," says Moira Bruce of the neuropathogenesis unit of the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh, who was a member of the same team as Deslys.

"You see about the same incidence of the disease everywhere, whether or not there are many sheep, and in countries such as New Zealand with no scrapie," she says. In the only previous comparisons of sCJD and scrapie in mice, Bruce found they were dissimilar.

But there are more than 20 strains of scrapie, and six of sCJD. "You would not necessarily see a relationship between the two with epidemiology if only some strains affect only some people," says Deslys. Bruce is cautious about the mouse results, but agrees they require further investigation. Other trials of scrapie and sCJD in mice, she says, are in progress.

Deformed proteins

People can have three different genetic variations of the human prion protein, and each type of protein can fold up two different ways. Kretschmar has found that these six combinations correspond to six clinical types of sCJD: each type of normal prion produces a particular pathology when it spontaneously deforms to produce sCJD.

But if these proteins deform because of infection with a disease-causing prion, the relationship between pathology and prion type should be different, as it is in vCJD. "If we look at brain samples from sporadic CJD cases and find some that do not fit the pattern," says Kretschmar, "that could mean they were caused by infection."

There are 250 deaths per year from sCJD in the US, and a similar incidence elsewhere. Singeltary and other US activists think that some of these people died after eating contaminated meat or "nutritional" pills containing dried animal brain.

Governments will have a hard time facing activists like Singeltary if it turns out that some sCJD isn't as spontaneous as doctors have insisted.

Deslys's work on macaques also provides further proof that the human disease vCJD is caused by BSE. And the experiments showed that vCJD is much more virulent to primates than BSE, even when injected into the bloodstream rather than the brain. This, says Deslys, means that there is an even bigger risk than we thought that vCJD can be passed from one patient to another through contaminated blood transfusions and surgical instruments.


29 Mar 01 - CJD - Thinking of the Filipino palate amid Mad Cow disease scare

By Maurice Malanes

Northern Luzon Inquirer--Thursday 29 March 2001


Time was when the traditional Filipino diet depended on where one lived.

Those who lived along the coastlines would rely mainly on fish and other seafood for their protein sources. The Igorot folk of old would get their protein mainly from wide varieties of upland beans and grains, and occasionally from meat when they would hold their traditional thanksgiving feasts called cañao or pedit.

Until now, most Igorot folk, particularly those in the hinterlands, still rely mainly on plant proteins and freshwater fish.

So traditionally the Filipino diet has been plant-centered. But thanks to the proponents of the steak and burger religion, the Filipino's healthier vegetable-fish-oriented taste buds shifted toward something meaty as steakhouses and burger chains continued to mushroom in urban areas from Tuguegarao City in Luzon to Davao City in Mindanao.

And proof that these establishments are cashing in on the Filipino's changing taste buds is that they now belong to the country's top 1,000 corporations.

With the Mad Cow and foot-and-mouth diseases now threatening cattle and livestock in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, which export a substantial amount of their livestock products to the Philippines, Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor has advised Filipinos to patronize locally raised cattle and livestock.

Problem is how can Filipino consumers be assured that the processed meats they buy from the groceries, such as sausages, hotdogs and hams, or the burgers they eat in fastfood chains are not tainted?

Advice

One good advice comes from Dr. Micaela Defiesta, Cordillera director of the National Nutritional Council.

"If it's not possible to eat beef and pork, we can go for fish," she said.

Fish, the traditional protein source in this archipelago, "unfortunately is not given priority," she said. "More and more Filipinos now go for burgers and steaks."

With the Mad Cow and foot-and-mouth diseases, Defiesta agrees with the suggestion that it is time for Filipinos to re-educate and re-orient their palates.

"If our forebears had simple but healthier taste buds, why can't we?" she asked. "My advice is for parents to put more fish in the diet of their children."

Fish, she said, has the same quality of protein as meat and has healthier polyunsaturated fats, which the body can easily absorb.

Other Filipinos, she said, can go for grains and legumes, and legume derivatives, such as tofu or soybean curd.

Defiesta said she saw the Mad Cow and foot-and-mouth diseases as an opportunity for concerned officials to look for, if not innovate, appropriate technologies and food security programs for various regions in the country.

Concerned government agencies and local government units, she suggested, could look at the prospects of further popularizing rice-and-fish culture which can help ensure food self-sufficiency in the localities, particularly in a landlocked region such as the Cordillera.

She also suggested the protection of the Cordillera's river systems that are rich in exotic fish species.

The Cordillera has seven major river systems and several tributaries, which have helped provide the protein sources of villagers since time immemorial. The rivers teem with eels, lobsters and various fish.

Mining operations and big dams, however, have threatened some of the river systems.

Still recovering from the pollution of a copper mine in the 1970s, for example, is the Amburayan River, the source of protein for villagers from Kapangan and Atok in Benguet and those in the uplands of La Union.

The Agno River has also lost its exotic fish species because of mining operations in Itogon town and after the Binga and Ambuklao dams were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Mining operations in Mankayan town also continue to threaten the Abra River.

If only to secure and ensure the health and nutrition of rural folk, Cordillera's river systems must also be secured and protected, Defiesta said.


29 Mar 01 - CJD - Texas officials to kill 21 cattle, test them for Mad Cow disease

Associated Press.

CNN--Thursday 29 March 2001


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A handful of cattle imported from Germany before a 1997 ban on European livestock will be destroyed to test whether the animals were exposed to Mad Cow disease, officials said Wednesday.

The 21 animals from five ranches around the state will be killed and their remains incinerated while samples of their brain tissue will be sent to a national laboratory in Ames, Iowa, Animal Health Commission officials said.

The cattle are being destroyed as a precaution because of public concern over Mad Cow disease, state officials said.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, has never been detected in U.S. cattle, but has infected herds in Europe since the mid-1980s.

An epidemic devastated the British beef industry in the 1990s. Nearly 100 people in Europe have died of a human form of BSE since 1995, but no cases have been confirmed in the United States. The disease attacks the brain and spinal cord.

The cattle were among 29 imported from Germany in 1996 and 1997 before the ban. All had been under quarantine since March 1997, after health officials traced them to their current owners.

The owners, who were not identified, had declined to sell the animals for $2,000 per head to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They waited until the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the Texas Beef Council and the Texas Cattlefeeders Association raised an additional $57,000 for total compensation of $99,000.

None of the imported cattle have shown signs of the disease, said Carla Everett, a spokeswoman for the Animal Health Commission.

The USDA this week was also testing tissue samples of 260 Vermont sheep suspected of having been exposed to a form of Mad Cow disease.

Before the flocks were sent to Iowa for slaughter, four sheep tested positive in Vermont for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or TSE, a family of diseases that includes Mad Cow disease, and scrapie, a common sheep disease that doesn't affect humans.

Scientists at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa said they would know within two or three months how many of the sheep were carrying TSE.


29 Mar 01 - CJD - 5,000 products altered as Mad Cow safeguard

Staff Reporter

Yomiuri Shimbun--Thursday 29 March 2001


Since the government banned the use of bone or tissue taken from cows raised in "risky nations" in certain medical and nonmedicinal products, it has received more than 5,000 applications from companies seeking approval for changes to the composition of their products, ministry sources said Wednesday.

The ban was a precautionary measure against "Mad Cow" disease, which has spread across Europe.

Most of the medicines and other products are Chinese medicines or treatments for improving skin complexion.

The firms will change some of the products' constituents and clarify their origin.

In December last year, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry banned pharmaceutical companies from using in medicines, nonmedicinal treatments and medical instruments constituents taken from cows coming from countries where Mad Cow disease has occurred or countries where the disease is likely to occur. The number of specified countries totaled 29.

The ministry also banned the use in medicines of tissue from the placentas, brains, bone marrow, eyes and other bodily parts of cows from all countries. The pathogenic organisms that cause Mad Cow disease are believed to thrive in these body parts.

The ministry urged all pharmaceutical companies using such material in their products to change the composition of such products to exclude the material within three months.

Applications for government approval of about 3,000 medicines, about 2,000 nonmedicinal treatments and about 100 medical instruments--all partially altered--have been submitted to the ministry via municipal governments.


29 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease's shadow lengthens

By Crocker Stephenson of the Journal Sentinel staff

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel--Thursday 29 March 2001


Europe's pain, America's fear, as U.S. wonders: Could it happen here?

PART 1

Mad Cow Disease

Billy McIntyre holds his 21-year-old daughter, Donna, in their home in Aberdeen, Scotland. Donna began showing signs of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human equivalent of BSE, or Mad Cow, last August. Her condition has rapidly deteriorated; she shows few signs of consciousness.

He cradles her head in his arms. Donna's hands flop and jerk; little fishes in her lap. Her arm swings over the side of her wheelchair and hangs down. Billy takes her twitching hand and replaces it in her lap.

A few moments, then Donna's eyes close. A mercy.

Donna, who is 21, is one of five people in the United Kingdom now dying of the human form of Mad Cow disease. In the months and years to come, there will be more. Hundreds. Perhaps thousands. Some scientists have predicted hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

No one is sure.

"Donna is just the tip of the iceberg," says Billy, brushing back her hair. "The tip."

Statistics released this month by Britain's CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh support Billy's assessment.

Three cases of vCJD - variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the medical term for human Mad Cow - were detected by the surveillance unit in 1995, the first appearance of the disease in the human population. Ten new cases were reported the following year, 18 in 1998 and 28 in 2000. As of March 2, 11 new cases had been reported this year.

Altogether, 90 people in the United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - have died of probable or confirmed cases of human Mad Cow disease. The disease also claimed one life in the Republic of Ireland and three in France.

There have been no reported cases of vCJD in the United States, nor a single detected case of Mad Cow disease.

But as Mad Cow continues to spread across Europe, to Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland, Americans have begun to wonder: Could it happen here?

"The short answer is no," said University of Wisconsin-Madison animal science professor Judd Aiken.

"Actually, that's too short of an answer," said Aiken, an expert in the class of illnesses containing Mad Cow.

"A better answer is not likely. The chance of an outbreak of (Mad Cow) in the U.S. is, at this point, remote."

Even more remote, Aiken said, is the chance that such an outbreak in the United States might go undetected, eventually finding its way, as it did in Great Britain, into the human food chain.

Those who have followed the spread of Mad Cow since it first manifested itself on a British farm 16 years ago might understand why Aiken would hedge his answer at least a little.

In country after country, unqualified optimism has proved ill founded.

Nothing like it

On Dec. 22, 1984, as Donna prepared to celebrate her fifth Christmas, the disease that would kill her first manifested itself on a farm hundreds of miles away in a corner of rural Sussex, in southern England.

Veterinarian David Bee was called out that day by farmer Peter Stent, who said he had a cow that was behaving oddly. The animal, which would become known as Case No. 1, was drooling, acting aggressive, wagging its head, staggering. Bee had never seen anything like it.

At first Bee thought the cow had been poisoned. As other cattle on the farm began to show similar symptoms, he tested them for lead and mercury. The results were negative.

By August, eight cows had died. Bee still hadn't figured out what had killed them, but it seemed as if whatever the disease was, it had run its course, never to reappear. Bee assumed he had stumbled across a medical oddity, restricted to a single herd.

In fact, he had witnessed the emergence of what Britain is calling its costliest peacetime disaster.

Over the next three years, 420 cases of the disease were discovered in herds throughout the United Kingdom and scientists had given the ailment a name: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE. The media, casting about for something a bit sexier, dubbed the disease "Mad Cow."

What stumped researchers was how the disease could have spread so widely so quickly. It seemed as if hundreds of cattle had all gotten sick almost at once. What did they all have in common?

The disease couldn't have been imported; many of the herds were closed and had no contact with other cattle. It couldn't be genetic; a wide variety of breeds had been infected.

One piece of the puzzle lay in the nature of the disease itself: It seemed to resemble scrapie, a spongiform encephalopathy that had afflicted British sheep for hundreds of years.

But why, after generations, would the disease suddenly jump species? And how?

That piece of the puzzle was uncovered at the knacker's yard - the British term for rendering plants - where dead animals, diseased carcasses and the discarded offal of slaughterhouses and butcher shops are recycled into a protein supplement that in turn is fed to cattle.

The British government concluded that BSE was a kind of scrapie that had been introduced to cattle by the presence of infected sheep waste in the rendering process. In 1988, the British government banned feeding ruminant protein - that is, rendered cattle and sheep remains - to live cattle and sheep, and ordered the destruction of infected cattle.

Although British producers of meat and bone meal were banned from feeding ruminant protein to animals in the United Kingdom, exporters continued to sell the material abroad.

Meat producers in more than 80 countries around the world purchased the potentially contaminated material before the practice was discontinued in 1996, and untold numbers of people in those countries have eaten cattle raised on British feed that includes the protein.

Denials and deaths

It is likely that Donna McIntyre was already infected with vCJD in 1995, when reported cases of BSE in the United Kingdom reached more than 140,000.

The British government continued to insist that British beef was safe for human consumption. The argument was that human beings had been eating scrapie-infected sheep for hundreds of years without ill effect. The possibility that a bovine form of scrapie could affect humans seemed remote.

In fact, people had already begun to die.

The first was Stephen Churchill, who died on May 21, 1995, one month after his 19th birthday. He was followed by Michelle Bowen, a 29-year-old former butcher's assistant, who died in November. Comatose in the weeks before her death, she gave birth to her second child.

Jean Wake, 38, who had worked as a meat-chopper in a pie factory, also died that month. Her mother wrote then-Prime Minister John Major, asking if Jean's death could be related to Mad Cow. Major replied, "I should make it clear that humans do not get 'Mad Cow disease.' "

But on March 20, 1996, Secretary for Health Stephen Dorrell appeared in the House of Commons to announce that BSE appeared to have spread to humans from eating infected beef.

By then, 10 people had died.

"They put the interests of farming and the beef industry before the interests of people," says Billy McIntyre, expressing the near universal sentiment of families touched by vCJD. "They poisoned our children."

These days, Billy's voice is drowned out by concerns across Great Britain over foot-and-mouth disease, which is threatening to further cripple an already staggered farming industry.

But last month, Agricultural Minister Nick Brown presented a report to Parliament saying that "institutional failure" and "political failure right across government" led to the Mad Cow crisis.

"There has been a significant loss of public confidence in the arrangements for handling food safety and standards, due in large part to the events surrounding BSE," the reports says. "The government recognizes that its efforts to build and sustain trust through openness cannot succeed unless it is fully prepared to acknowledge uncertainty in its assessments of risk."

PART II:

Madison - On Feb. 5, 1997, a physician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School opened the skull of a 46-year-old man, three hours dead, and removed his brain.

The doctor suspected the organ harbored a rare and contagious disease, one that, if contracted, would in all cases kill its unfortunate host after a long and terrible illness.

The procedure was conducted in a restricted area, with all surfaces in and around the work area covered with disposable material. Surgical instruments were kept to a bare minimum, and after the autopsy, they were soaked for an hour in a caustic solution of lye, then soaked again in a solution of bleach. Tissue samples were stored in special, clearly marked, biohazard bags.

That the man's brain had been ravaged by disease was immediately obvious.

The frontal lobes - the biological seat of emotion and personality - were severely withered. So was the cerebellum, the two peach pit-like structures at the base of the brain that control voluntary movement and general coordination. The entire brain weighed but 1,000 grams - about one-third lighter than the average weight of a healthy human brain.

Pieces of tissue examined beneath a microscope showed a significant loss of nerve cells as well as spongy patches of diseased material.

More tests would confirm what was obvious.

The man, having lost his capacity to walk, talk, see or swallow, had died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The man's name was Peter Rehse.

He had spent his whole life in Horicon, running his family's insurance business.

Everyone knew Peter. Blond. Handsome. He had an 8-year-old boy, Matthew. His wife, Candy, liked to tell people that she and Peter had a "different" kind of marriage, in that "We were very much in love."

Candy remembers when she first heard the term Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It was February 1996, a year before Peter's death, and a doctor treating Peter pulled her aside and said he thought Peter had developed CJD.

"He told me, 'There is no cure for this. He is going to die,' " she said. "And he told me that it was very rare, that it occurred in about one in a million people.

"It was such a strange sounding disease - Creutzfeldt-Jakob. I tried to find out everything I could about it. I found bits and pieces. Almost nothing."

Then, about a month later, Peter was in the hospital, undergoing tests. Candy was sitting in a waiting room. The television was on, tuned to the news. The sound was turned down. Candy glanced at some words that had flashed up on the screen.

It said, "Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease."

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I turned up the volume. They said England was bracing for an epidemic."

Wisconsin outbreak Peter died from what is sometimes called classic CJD, the word "classic" added to distinguish it from the human form of Mad Cow disease, variant CJD.

CJD was first identified by Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt, an assistant of Alois Alzheimer, the discoverer of Alzheimer's disease, in a paper Creutzfeldt published in 1921. The disease belongs to a group of illnesses called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSE.

TSEs are distributed among people and animals around the world. Some are rarer than others.

Scrapie, for example, is a relatively common form of TSE found in sheep. Chronic wasting disease, on the other hand, is a relatively rare TSE found in deer and elk and limited to a few counties in northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming.

Kuru is an extremely rare but significant human TSE. It was discovered in the 1950s among the Fore people in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. American virologist Carleton Gajdusek was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1976 for showing that the disease was spread among the Fore through ritual cannibalism.

Gajdusek's discovery was significant not merely because it helped control the spread of Kuru among the Fore. By injecting infected Fore brain matter as well as brain matter from a victim of CJD into the skulls of chimps and monkeys, Gajdusek demonstrated that human forms of TSE were transmissible.

It was a lesson understood too late.

In the early 1960s, scientists discovered human growth hormone, harvested from the pituitary gland, located near the front of the brain, helped dwarves to grow to a more normal height.

A national agency was set up to collect pituitary glands from human cadavers. More than 8,000 young people received injections of the hormone over the next 20 years. The practice was discontinued in 1985 when an epidemic of CJD broke out among young people who had received the injections.

That same year, an event in Wisconsin raised similar concerns about the spread of TSEs in animals, and became a key component in framing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's firewalls to make sure TSEs could not compromise the American cattle herd.

An outbreak of TSE was discovered in a herd of 7,300 adult mink on a mink farm in Stetsonville, northwest of Wausau. In the early stages of the disease, the mink became uncoordinated and easily excited. In the advanced stages, they slipped into trance-like states, then died.

Richard Marsh, the late famed veterinary virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, investigated the outbreak and found that the animals were being fed fresh meat from downer cattle - that is, cattle unable to rise because of a variety of ailments, including central nervous system disorders.

Marsh theorized that the meat from these downer cattle had introduced a TSE agent to the mink. The implication - that some downer cattle may harbor TSE, was chilling in light of the Mad Cow epidemic in the United Kingdom.

In 1993, as a result of Marsh's work, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service adjusted its BSE surveillance program to include downer cattle. To date, the brains of 12,000 animals, including more than 460 cattle in Wisconsin, have been tested.

None, according to USDA spokeswoman Hallie Pickhardt, has shown signs of Mad Cow disease, or any other TSE illness.

Keeping watch

The USDA monitors not only the nation's native herd but also tracks the health of any cattle and sheep imported to the United States from Europe or any country affected with BSE since Jan. 1, 1981. Such animals were banned completely in 1997.

Of the 496 United Kingdom and Irish cattle imported to the U.S. since 1981, all but 32 have been traced, and only four are known to be alive. All four animals are in Vermont and have been quarantined since 1996.

As for cattle from other countries, two animals imported from Belgium remain under quarantine in Minnesota; one from Germany remains quarantined in Illinois; and 21 from Germany remain quarantined in Texas.

The owners of the cattle are not permitted to sell the animals or slaughter them for food, Pickhardt said. When time comes for their slaughter, Pickhardt said, the USDA hopes to buy the animals and test them.

The cattle have not shown any signs of BSE, Pickhardt said, and pose no threat to their communities.

"We know where they've been. We know where they are. And we know where they are going," she said.

The two flocks of European-born sheep seized in Vermont last week by USDA agents had been permitted to enter the country under similar quarantine regulations.

The flocks were removed after several sheep tested positive for TSE. The animals will be destroyed at a USDA veterinary laboratory in Iowa, Pickhardt said.


29 Mar 01 - CJD - Beef sales remain stagnant

Meng Yan, China Daily Staff

China Daily--Thursday 29 March 2001


Although China is free from Mad Cow disease, which has swept Europe and many other countries in the last several months, the country's beef exports have not benefited.

Customs statistics indicate China's exports of frozen beef decreased 10.6 per cent year-on-year to 20,000 tons last year.

The amount fell a further 18.9 per cent from the same period last year this January.

Customs officials also said that China's exports of live cattle were negligible.

Since the first case of Mad Cow disease was detected in Britain in 1985, it has spread quickly to other parts of the world.

It has been reported that the disease has now been found in all 15 European Union member countries apart from Finland, Austria and Greece.

A report by the United Nations on February 7 said more than 100 countries and regions were threatened by Mad Cow disease.

But China has escaped the pandemic thanks to the fact that it mainly uses plants as cattle feed.

The Ministry of Agriculture declared on February 14 that China was free from Mad Cow disease after carrying out careful examinations of imported cattle and their offspring as well as cattle bred from imported sperm, eggs and embryos.

This has not, however, increased China's cattle and beef exports as many had expected.

An official with the Ministry of Agriculture said that after the latest outbreak of Mad Cow disease in Europe, European people had become afraid of beef and reduced their beef consumption, and that partly explains why China's beef exports were not increasing.

A business insider added that the flavour of China's beef was different from that in the West, which meant that it was not popular there.

He added that although China has been successful in controlling Mad Cow disease, many of its sanitation and epidemic-prevention standards for food are lower than international criteria and its food management measures do not conform with international practices.

Some domestic newspapers have criticized Chinese companies for not being good at grasping market opportunities and lacking awareness of market competition.

Wang Zhiliang, board director of the Dahuan Meat Co Ltd, denied the media's accusations and said Chinese companies were always seeking to expand exports.

But he was quoted by a domestic newspaper as saying that the Mad Cow disease pandemic was more of a disaster to the company than a blessing, as domestic companies were vying for the emerging global market gap by offering extraordinarily low prices.


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Meat is still on the menu, but concern grows

By Jon Tevlin and Bob von Sternberg, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

Nando Times--Wednesday 28 March 2001


At Matt's Bar in Minneapolis, patrons can buy a T-shirt with the slogan "Fear The Cheese," referring to the bar's cheese-stuffed "Juicy Lucy" hamburger. Customers may be wary of the molten cheddar, but no one at the packed saloon seems to fear the beef, despite new concerns that the first case of mad-cow disease may have infiltrated the United States.

There's scant evidence that reports of mad-cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease in Britain and Europe have triggered widespread changes in American consumers' behavior. While many say they're paying close attention, they have stopped short of shunning meat.

Farmers, however, have begun bracing for the fallout from the ailments. Mad Cow is a brain-wasting disease that may cause a disorder fatal to people, while foot-and-mouth doesn't affect humans but causes economic devastation by rendering livestock unmarketable. Should mad-cow disease appear in the United States, grocers, restaurateurs and shoppers say much could change overnight.

Some experts say it's only a matter of time.

"No question it's going to happen, because it's foolish to believe some tainted bone meal (linked to the European outbreak) didn't make its way into this country during the '90s," said Michael Osterholm, former Minnesota state epidemiologist. "It won't be a public health crisis because of its rarity, but it will be a huge public confidence crisis over the safety of food.

"Right now, 50,000 Americans die a year from food-borne disease. Do the math: That's about 100 a week. Over a decade, about 100 people have died from BSE (Mad Cow), so it's not as if it's a big public risk. And I think you'll see the government pick up on it more quickly than they did in Great Britain."

So far, it doesn't appear that beef consumption has dropped off.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association has recently tracked a very slight decline in beef consumption nationwide, "but we don't know what to attribute that to," spokeswoman Carole DuBois said.

The association has been tracking public awareness about mad-cow disease since the first British cases were widely publicized five years ago - and, correspondingly, Americans' perception of whether the beef they eat is safe. The most recent survey, last month, showed that 81 percent of those questioned had heard about the disease, while 87 percent said they're confident beef is safe to eat.

But that confidence may be eroding. About three in 10 Americans say they are very concerned that mad-cow disease could become a problem in this country and 36 percent are somewhat concerned, according to a CNNUSA TodayGallup poll released last week.

There's a widespread worry that many Americans have jumbled Mad Cow and foot-and-mouth into a confusing mishmash.

"A lot of people seem very confused," said Osterholm, the food safety expert. "The media hasn't done a good job laying out the differences, and the government hasn't either."

Federal agricultural officials said they have received calls exhibiting that confusion, as have some grocers, who said the uncertainty nonetheless hasn't hurt sales.

"I really believe people really don't understand the difference," said Kim Mackenthun, who owns a supermarket in Waseca, Minn. "Too many things have been at the forefront all at once, bombarding people with a lot of technical information."

News coverage of both diseases could chip into consumers' confidence about beef, said Dennis Bottem, president of the 1,500-member Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association. "You can't have this in the news constantly without it having some effect on the consumer. The diseases are so different, but it's all painted with a broad brush."

Some restaurant owners already are making changes because of people's perception of a threat. Others say that if the blight continues in Europe or Mad Cow is verified here, the calm will quickly evaporate.

At The Local, an Irish pub and restaurant in Minneapolis, the concern over beef safety prompted owner Kieran Folliard to break from tradition on St. Patrick's Day and make shepherd's pie with chicken instead of the usual beef and lamb.

The restaurant "did it partly out of concern that people may have had fears about meat, even though we've had no trouble here yet," said Patricia Hayes, general manager of Kieran's Irish Pub, also owned by Folliard. "But we're still making it with ground beef and lamb at Kieran's, and it's still selling like crazy."

Randy Stanley, general manager of Manny's Steakhouse in Minneapolis, said he'd only received one question about meat safety. "I'd say the economy is more of a factor on our business than anything," he said.

Manny's has taken precautions, however. It is making suppliers sign affidavits saying they don't use feed made from animal parts. "We've been very, very careful," Stanley said.

Because U.S. restaurants generally buy local meats, there's little concern that the recent U.S. ban on European meat will have an immediate impact, except possibly in one area: baby back ribs.

Denmark supplies about half of the baby back ribs in the U.S. market; industry experts say that chain restaurants that specialize in baby backs may experience a shortage.

Restaurant consultant Andrew Zimmern said the U.S. restaurant industry isn't taking the whole meat issue seriously.

"People are burying their heads in the sand," Zimmern said. "The restaurant industry tends to manage problems day-to-day, but if I owned (a restaurant) right now, I'd be working on a more varied menu... and doing everything I could to make sure I had a safe source of meat.

"Stay tuned this summer," Zimmern said. "It could get ugly."


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Kane's overseas disease unease

By Jim Faber

Courier News--Wednesday 28 March 2001


Fox Valley farmers: U.S. regs likely to keep foot-and-mouth, Mad Cow diseases at bay

That's what local farming officials are saying about the possibility of either foot-and-mouth disease or Mad Cow disease showing up in Illinois or the Fox Valley.

"Chances are slim to none," said Mike Kenyon, president of the Kane County Farm Bureau and owner of Kenyon Brothers Co., a dairy farm in South Elgin. "I can't say never, but it is highly unlikely."

Local farm officials point to a food-safety enforcement system that is better than those in Europe, their own devotion to farming as a livelihood, which could be wiped out with a few foolish risks, and the nation's incredible record in the past in keeping livestock healthy.

Both Mad Cow and foot-and-mouth disease are fatal to livestock. But of the two diseases, only Mad Cow can be fatal to humans. There has been no documented impact of foot-and-mouth disease on humans, farm officials said.

North America and Antarctica are the only continents free of foot-and-mouth disease, Kenyon said, and there have been no confirmed cases of Mad Cow disease in the United States.

The nation has been free of foot-and-mouth disease since 1929, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even with Mad Cow's deadly consequences, foot-and-mouth disease is the more worrisome locally, in part because it spreads much more easily.

"Mad Cow doesn't spread vertically or horizontally," Kenyon said. Infected animals "can't give it to their offspring or their herdmates. Foot-and-mouth spreads horizontally and vertically and every which way."

In fact, humans can carry foot-and-mouth in their lungs and noses, and on clothing and shoes, Kendall County Farm Bureau Manager Dan Reedy said.

Because of those risks, Kenyon canceled a trip to England that he had planned to take next week.

"There's no point in going now," he said.

Regulations beefed up

Both state and federal agricultural agencies are very tight in enforcing laws that forbid giving cows feed that includes cow parts as a source of protein, Kenyon said. Cows become infected with Mad Cow disease by eating feed containing infected cow parts, he said.

State and federal measures recently have been strengthened to make sure that the diseases stay out, said Mariam Wassmann, director of information for the DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

Between the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the USDA, food-safety enforcement in the United States is better than the measures Europe has in place, Wassmann said, so DeKalb County livestock producers remain unruffled by the diseases overseas.

"The producers I work with have discussed it a little," Wassmann said. "They are very sympathetic to what is going on in Europe. They know if it happened here, it would be devastating."

The fear that these diseases could hit America is very real. In a recent CNNUSA TodayGallup poll, almost 66 percent of Americans say they are either very concerned or somewhat concerned about Mad Cow coming to America. The survey was taken after reports earlier this month that sheep in Vermont might have been exposed to a version of Mad Cow disease.

That fear is something that cattle producers have to keep in mind, Wassmann said.

"We hope it doesn't do anything, but news out in the media can have an impact on the ag industry," Wassmann said.

So far, the most immediate impact probably will be on grain farmers, said Steve Arnold, manager of the Kane County Farm Bureau.

As herds are slaughtered in Europe, the demand for feed grain will drop in the short term, he said. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this report.


28 Mar 01 - CJD - 'Mad sheep' slaughtered in the US

Staff Reporter

ITN--Wednesday 28 March 2001


US officials have slaughtered 260 sheep suspected of having been exposed to a form of Mad Cow disease.

Four of the animals had tested positive for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or TSE.

The disease is in the same family as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease.

TSE is similar to the ancient sheep disease scrapie, but is not the same condition.

The East Friesian milking sheep, seized from two farms in Vermont, were imported before the Mad Cow disease epidemic prompted a ban on European livestock in 1997.

The animals were thought to have been exposed to contaminated feed.

Tissue samples are now being tested at a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinary laboratory.

Scientists at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory here said they were running a series of blood and tissue tests on the carcasses.

They said they would know within two or three months how many of the sheep were carrying TSE.

Nearly 100 people across Europe have died of a human form of BSE since 1995, nvCJD, but no cases have been confirmed in the United States.

Suspect cows

US officials are also said tracking a handful of cattle imported from Britain before the 1997 ban.

None of the animals had shown any illness, USDA said.

"It's my understanding they are going to be bought and destroyed, but none of them have ever entered the human or animal food chain," said Ed Curlett, a USDA spokesman.

Meanwhile, Texas health officials have ordered the pre-emptive slaughter of cattle imported from Germany before the livestock ban.

They are hoping to ease ranchers' fears about Mad Cow disease.

The state is planning to destroy 21 heads of cattle scattered throughout Texas.

The animals were imported four years ago and state officials stress that none of the cattle have Mad Cow disease.

BSE can live in cattle for years without detection.


28 Mar 01 - CJD - CJD fear paralysis as tonsil ops wait for instruments

By Claire Lomax (Health Reporter)

Preston Online--Wednesday 28 March 2001


Tonsil operations are still postponed at the Royal Preston Hospital more than two months after being cancelled amid fears of patients catching the human form of Mad Cow disease.

The health scare means that by next month some patients will have been waiting more than a year for surgery.

All tonsillectomies at the Royal Preston Hospital were postponed in January after health chiefs issued warnings that surgical instruments used on a patient incubating variant CJD, but showing no symptoms, could pass on the disease.

Hospitals were told to switch to disposable equipment but so far the Department of Health has been unable to supply the instruments, causing a backlog.

Patients at hospitals across the country are suffering a similar fate with some waiting up to 15 months. It is thought supplies of disposable equipment will go to these hospitals first, meaning further delays for Preston patients.

Chairman of Preston Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Brian Booth confirmed they were still waiting for the instruments.

He said: "Everyone says using disposable equipment is the way to go. The suppliers are working hard but there is a deficiency."

Trust chief executive Jeff Moore gave assurances the cancellations related only to elective surgery. He said: "If there is an emergency then that person will get an operation.

"We have been unable to secure a date for the equipment being delivered because it is being managed centrally. We suspect that those with longer waiting lists will get it first."

There have never been any confirmed cases of patients contracting CJD via surgical instruments but scientists discovered sterilisation-resistant particles associated with CJD in the tonsils and adenoids of some sufferers.


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Belgium finds Mad Cow cases

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 28 March 2001


Authorities in Belgium have announced two more cases of Mad Cow disease.

The cases bring the total to six since systematic testing for all cattle over 30 months was introduced at the start of the year.

One case was found in northern Limburg, where 137 animals were subsequently destroyed, and another in northwestern Belgium, where 51 cattle were killed as a precautionary measure.

Mandatory testing for cattle over 30 months old was approved by European Union farm ministers in January.

The new cases bring the overall total since 1997 to 25.


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Bush sees livestock diseases as security issue

By Randall Mikkelsen

YAHOO--Wednesday 28 March 2001


BILLINGS, Montana (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush views the potential threat of Mad Cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease to U.S. livestock as a national security issue, a top aide said on Monday.

"His national security folks are tracking this as closely as his agricultural people are," Bush aide Dan Bartlett told Reuters.

Speaking after Bush met with a group of Montana farmers, Bartlett said updates on the diseases were part of Bush's regular intelligence briefings.

Bush was pleased with steps taken to destroy sheep, culled from two flocks in Vermont, suspected of carrying an illness related to Mad Cow disease, he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has seized 234 sheep from one flock and about 126 from a second and moved them to a government lab in Iowa for destruction and testing.

An Agriculture Department spokesman said that preliminary results would not be available for months.

Last July, several sheep from the flocks tested positive for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), a class of neurological diseases that includes the sheep illness scrapie, and Mad Cow, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

A related human disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, has killed more than 80 people in Britain and the rest of Europe.

INSPECTORS SAID INCREASED

Bartlett said the United States had increased inspectors to guard against importing foot-and- mouth disease.

Cases of Mad Cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease have led to mass herd slaughters to contain the diseases in Europe.

On Sunday, Britain stepped up measures to tackle the foot-and-mouth outbreak as the number of infected sites approached 600. Scientists warn that the epidemic could spread with dramatic speed and that half the country's livestock might have to be slaughtered.

The issue was one of several Bush discussed with the farmers, Bartlett said. He said most of the session was taken up with a discussion of the farmers' concerns over energy prices and shortages.

Bush, speaking to reporters at the start of the meeting, said on Monday it was too early to tell whether U.S. farmers, facing a fourth year of low grain prices, would need a federal rescue on the scale of last year's $9.7 billion (6.7 billion pounds).

Congress has enacted nearly $25 billion in farm bailouts since grain prices collapsed in 1998 under the weight of a global glut. A farm-sector recovery was unlikely for months.

NO ANNOUNCEMENT ON PACKAGE

U.S. farm groups have asked lawmakers for $9 billion in "market loss" payments this year as well as an additional $12 billion a year in farm supports.

Bush, in Billings to meet growers at a farm supply store, told reporters it was premature to judge if a package like last year's was appropriate.

"But we've got contingency money set aside in case that needs to happen," he said.

As part of budget proposals, Bush would create a vast contingency fund to pay for emergency needs. The House Budget Committee voted last week to give defence and agriculture priority in tapping the fund, if need be, later this year.

Bush declined to say, in light of the repeated bailouts by Congress, if U.S. farm law should be changed. The bailouts have doubled the expected cost of the 1996 "Freedom to Farm" law that deregulated farming.

"What we don't know yet is whether the new risk-management programmes we put in place achieved their desired effect," he said, referring to crop insurance reforms enacted last year. They reduced the cost of crop insurance to growers with the goal of luring more to enrol and to buy more comprehensive coverage.

Asked about prolonged dry weather in Montana, Bush referred to first-hand experience with recent droughts while governor of Texas.

"Pray, pray for rain," he said. "I know what drought does to a farmer.... In the meantime, we've got disaster payments and risk-management programs at the federal level."


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Call to assess British study on BSE

Staff Reporter

YAHOO--Wednesday 28 March 2001


The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has been asked today to independently assess a study published by the British Food Standards Agency, which claims that the risk of eating BSE contaminated meat is about 220 times greater in Ireland than in Britain, by Fine Gael's health spokesman, Gay Mitchell.

"The reason the British study claims a greater incidence of BSE here is that more infected cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland and rules to prevent older animals entering the food chain were only applied here last year. These claims are a further reason why responsibility for food should be divorced from the Department of Agriculture. The department is greatly influenced by the natural concerns of farmers, and responsibility for food issues should be distributed between the Minister with responsibility for Consumer Affairs and the Department of Health."


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Leather trade hit by BSE

By Sally Patten

Times--Wednesday 28 March 2001


The price of shoes, handbags and other leather goods is set to soar as problems engulfing the meat industry continue to worsen.

The price of cattle hides - which are used mainly in shoes and upholstery - has already risen by 20 per cent since January as the shortage caused by the outbreak of BSE on the Continent late last year has been exacerbated by the foot-and-mouth epidemic. The current fashion for leather is likely to ensure that demand remains high.

Tanners, shoe manufacturers and footwear retailers are bracing themselves for a squeeze on margins. However, industry experts believe that even if all the higher costs are not passed on to consumers, leather shoes will still be at least 10 per cent more expensive by the autumn.

John Pittard, managing director of Pittards, the leather manufacturer, said: "It is not easy to pass on price increases to consumers, but they will end up paying more."

Marcus Brierly, joint managing director of Thomas Ware & Sons, the Bristol tanner, said: "If you want to buy leather, buy now."

As a result of BSE, meat consumption in France and Germany has fallen by about 40 per cent since November, which means that many fewer cattle are being slaughtered.

Mr Pittard estimates that in the UK over the past five weeks, the number of cattle being taken to abbattoirs has plummeted from 70,000 head a week to just 25,000.

If the UK has to import hides, the price rises could be even steeper. UK hides sell for about £50 each, more than £10 less than US varieties.

The impact on the price of sheepskins - which are mainly used in clothing - has been more muted. Although the number of sheep being taken to abattoirs has plunged by about a third in recent weeks, Mr Pittard estimates that the price of a skin has risen by about 6 per cent to £4.10. However, this is nearly double the £2.30 being commanded in January last year.

Mr Brierly said: "This is the first time in 35 years where we don't know what is going to happen to prices."


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Boosts Organic Farming...But Shoppers May Balk at the Prices

By Katharine A. Schmidt in Welzheim

Business Week--Wednesday 28 March 2001


Tossing hay to his cattle with a pitchfork, Gerhard Vogel tells a visitor how the organic farm he runs with his wife has been growing. Last fall, the Vogels signed a contract to lease an additional 20 hectares for the 50-hectare farm where they raise wheat, rye, spelt, vegetables, cattle, and hogs. Now, they're advertising in an organic farmers' magazine for a full-time employee to cover the additional workload and are planning to add chickens and turkeys to the products offered at their farmstead store. Eleven years after taking over the farm from his wife's parents, Vogel says: "I feel vindicated in the decision to farm organically."

Plenty of German farmers agree. More and more are running enterprises like the Vogels' farm in Welzheim, about 35 kilometers east of Stuttgart. On these spreads, weed-hackers replace pesticide sprays, and cows and sheep eat grasses and grain instead of industrially produced feed. While most organic farmers make the switch because they're dedicated to ecological principles, they also know they can get much higher prices for organic grain--and earn more profit from their labor if they run a store like the Vogels' rather than selling to distributors. And in recent months, they've gotten a boost from the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Germany and from a scandal over antibiotics fed to pigs.

The umbrella organization of organic farming associations in Germany, AGO, reports that the number of farms being managed by members grew 7.5% over the past year, and the area being farmed with organic methods grew by about 10.5%. Since 1996, the total area farmed by AGO members has risen from about 310,000 hectares to 415,000. At Bioland, the largest of Germany's organic farming groups, more farmers have called in requesting information in the past few weeks than in the entire previous year. Demand for organic products at stores owned by Bioland farmers has risen 50% since the Mad Cow crisis began in Germany, and German natural-food wholesalers are reporting 40% to 60% increases in orders for meat and meat substitutes.

RISING FAST. The Consumer Protection, Food & Agriculture Ministry has high hopes for organic farming as an alternative to the kind of practices that encouraged development of BSE. Minister Renate Kunast, a member of the Green Party who took over the post in January, has said she wants to see organic farms in Germany rise from 3% of the total now to 10% in five years and 20% in 10 years. In a February speech, she called this a "turning point in agriculture." She's proposing to boost the money the government pays farmers to switch to organic, and to work with distributors and supermarket chains to help organic food get more shelf space. Thomas Dosch, manager of Bioland, figures such goals are attainable. In Austria, he says, 10% of the land farmed is certified organic, while in Denmark it's now 6% and rising rapidly. "In that light, we are not putting extraordinary demands on ourselves," he points out.

The question is, will consumers buy that much organic food? Vogel says that to reach even 10%, organic farmers must expand beyond farmstead stores. That means getting into supermarkets, where shoppers have shown more zeal for bargains than for grass-fed beef or unsprayed apples. Organic products usually cost 20% to 30% more than conventional food. "It's not as if the supermarkets haven't tried. Customers just didn't respond," says Tilman Becker, a marketing professor at Hohenheim University. As organic farmers multiply, marketing and distribution costs will fall, but Becker thinks that, at most, 5% of German farms could be run on organic principles within 10 years.

Besides the Mad Cow scare, one factor that might lure shoppers would be reliable organic labeling. As things stand now, grocery stores can use "organic" house brands as long as the food meets minimum European Union standards. The biggest German organic farming associations are pushing for promotion of the EU seal as a single, Europewide sign of organic quality. Having one such seal, and making public the criteria behind it, would help nudge people to pay more money for organic products, says Margret Ursprung, spokeswoman for the retail grocers' association. Every little bit helps--because no one expects organic food ever to compete on price alone.


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow rumors scare CME futures traders Friday

Staff Reporter

Agriculture News--Wednesday 28 March 2001


Livestock futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell sharply Friday morning, based on a report in a Minneapolis newspaper that USDA was monitoring cattle in Minnesota for symptoms of Mad Cow disease. In a Reuters report, however, USDA indicated that the cattle, which were imported from Europe before a U.S. ban on such animals, have been closely monitored and show no sign of Mad Cow. "We have been monitoring these animals for years. They have all been under quarantine since at least 1996," said Anna Cherry, a spokeswoman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 03/23/2001 01:24 p.m.CDT


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Shanghai goes genetic in Mad Cow prevention

HU YAN, China Daily staff

China Daily--Wednesday 28 March 2001


SHANGHAI: Local researchers recently announced they have developed a genetic technique for screening beef products that is expected to help the country fend off Bovine Spongiform Encepholapathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease.

According to experts, the Mad Cow virus usually makes its way into a country through imports of bone dust and meat and bone meal (MBM) made from infected cattle.

Since January 1, China has stopped the import of feed made with ground-up animal carcasses from the European Union.

This ban, however, could not prevent possibly infected cow parts from sneaking in as unlisted ingredients in other products such as flesh bone dusts.

To remedy this problem, the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau and the Shanghai Institute of Agricultural Science began working earlier this year on a gene-based technique that would make detection of cow components easier.

The genetic technique, called "DNA detection," may allow quarantine officials to find the Mad Cow virus in products with invisible cow components.

"The result of the past two months of research is a technique that is highly sensitive to cattle components and capable of detecting 1 gram of material derived from cows in 1,000 grams of product," said Zhang Dabing, director of the research group at the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Science.

So far, researchers have used the technique to find cattle components in five batches of imported bone dust mixtures in the Shanghai port.

None of the batches were found to be contaminated with the BSE virus. Mad Cow disease, first found in Britain in 1986, is dangerous both to animals and human beings.

The virus has spread to a number of countries in Europe and elsewhere, causing local cattle industries to sustain huge losses.

Authorities said the use of gene-based technology for detection of the BSE virus is very important in Shanghai, which is one of the main ports in China. The total volume of imports and exports that went through Shanghai's port last year accounted for one-fourth of the national total.


28 Mar 01 - CJD - Italy's Mad Cow Cases Rise to Nine



Braakman---Wednesday 28 March 2001


ROME, Mar 27, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A further two cases of Mad Cow disease were confirmed Tuesday by Italy's main testing lab for the fatal brain-wasting disease in Turin. The latest cases were both from the northern region of Lombardy, the heart of country's cattle industry, thereby bringing the total of such cases to nine in this country.

One of the animals was from a farm near Cremona and the other from a farm near Brescia, where Italy's first case of Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was discovered on January 13.

All the cases have turned up as a result of compulsory BSE testing of all cattle over 30 months old, a measure introduced in January in compliance with European Union regulations.

So far, 54,560 BSE tests have been carried out. The Italian Health Ministry is also awaiting results from Turin of definitive tests on the brain tissue of another suspected infected animal.


25 Mar 01 - CJD - Texas cattle face euthanasia over Mad Cow concerns

Associated Press

Houston Chronicle--Sunday 25 March 2001


COLLEGE STATION -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture says at least 21 cattle held under quarantine in Texas will soon be euthanized as part of a plan to ease concerns that some might be infected with Mad Cow disease.

The cows, imported four years ago from Germany for breeding, were isolated when the outbreak of Mad Cow disease erupted in Europe, officials said. Soon after, the U.S. banned the import of cattle and meat products from the European Union.

Animals already in the United States were quarantined.

Contaminated feed is believed to cause the illness in cattle. None of the cattle in Texas has shown any symptoms of the disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Originally, 29 cows were shipped to Texas, and USDA officials said none of those that died had the disease.

Within the next few weeks, the rest will no longer be a concern, an official with the Texas Animal Health Commission said.

"They will be euthanized, there is no question of that," agency spokeswoman Carla Everett told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. "The only question is when. It will be this spring."

Many of the cattle brought to Texas are exotic and expensive, she said, and owners did not want to sell them for the $2,000-a-head price offered by the USDA.

Because the cattle showed no symptoms of illness, they were not seized. Subsequently, the National Cattlemans Beef Association has raised funds to meet fair market value, which was determined by a professional appraiser.

"They have raised somewhere around $57,000, so between that and the $2,000 each, the deal (to destroy the cattle) is nearly done," Everett said.

Brain tissue from each animal will be sent for testing to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

At the time when the cattle arrived in Texas four years ago, eight were imported to Colorado and one in California. They were destroyed and tested. All had negative results for BSE. The cattle are owned by several people in Texas, but officials would not specify where in the state.

"We will not reveal the location of any of those animals to protect those farmers from any undue scrutiny," said Jerry Redding, a spokesman for the USDA. "We have legal agreements with all of the farmers who own the cattle that came in from Europe that they wont sell them without letting us know."

Lelve Gayle, associate agency director for the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab at Texas A&M University, said the quarantine restrictions are imposed only when federal authorities consider them necessary.

"They dont crack down real hard unless theyve got a good reason to do so," he said.

The quarantined animals were allowed to mingle with other cattle, said Hallie Pickhardt, a spokeswoman with the USDA.

"Even if they tested positive, there is no danger of them spreading the disease just by standing next to another cow," she said. "The only way this disease can be spread is by eating contaminated feed."


25 Mar 01 - CJD - U.S. thinks sheep may carry Mad Cow variant

By Christopher Noble, Reuters

NJ.com--Sunday 25 March 2001


EAST WARREN, Vt. -- Federal officials yesterday seized the second of two flocks of dairy sheep suspected of carrying an ailment related to Mad Cow disease in an early morning operation that brought an end to a nine-month legal battle over the animals' fate.

The government says the sheep pose a threat to the U.S. food supply. It has been fighting in the courts to seize and destroy them since July, when several tested positive for a class of degenerative neurological disorders that includes scrapie -- which afflicts sheep -- and Mad Cow disease.

The shepherds claim the U.S. Department of Agriculture's tests were flawed but the courts have consistently found for the government.

The move by the USDA followed Wednesday's seizure of another flock of sheep in Greensboro, Vt., and highlighted the agency's determination to act decisively to head off any risk that Mad Cow could be introduced into the United States.

About 25 federal agents from the USDA, the Office of the Inspector General and U.S. Marshal's Service, acting in compliance with a court decision, arrived at the farm of Larry and Linda Faillace, who own the sheep, shortly after 6 a.m.

A tractor-trailer arrived just before 7 a.m. and USDA veterinarians moved quickly to load the sheep into the vehicle for transport to an animal disease laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

A weeping Faillace family stood and watched as the sheep were herded in small groups onto the tractor-trailer. Francis Faillace, 16, carried one of the last lambs and broke down in tears as he handed the animal to a veterinarian.

About 30 demonstrators gathered nearby to protest the seizure. Bearing signs and chanting slogans, they watched the operation, which took place without disruption.

"I'm sad," said Larry Faillace. "Not only for ourselves, but for sheep farmers all over the world because USDA is saying these sheep have a disease that doesn't exist in sheep."

The flocks were imported from Belgium and the Netherlands in 1996. They were quarantined in 1998 after U.S. agriculture officials learned that sheep from Europe had likely been exposed to contaminated feed.

"While we understand this is a very difficult time for both flock owners, the removal of these sheep from Vermont's pastures concludes a determined effort by USDA to safeguard American agriculture against the threat posed by these animals," Craig Reed, administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said in a statement.

The seizures come against a background of growing concern about food safety in Europe and the United States. Europe is battling an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which is spreading quickly across the continent and has led governments to destroy tens of thousands of cows, sheep and pigs.

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth coincides with Europe's creeping epidemic of BSE, whose human form, known as new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, has killed more than 80 people in Britain and Europe. There has never been a case of BSE in the United States.

The USDA decided to end the fight over the sheep by seizing them before an appeals court hearing in early April. While the court agreed to hear the appeal of a lower court decision granting permission to destroy the animals, it did not order the USDA to wait until after the appeal to seize them.

Once the sheep arrive in Iowa, they will be killed by lethal injection and a brain tissue sample will be taken. The carcasses will be dumped into a large vat of boiling, pressurized chemicals and dissolved, officials said.

Meanwhile, a poll released yesterday shows that almost two-thirds of Americans say they're concerned that Mad Cow disease could become a problem in the United States -- a number that appears to be growing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.