Document Directory

16 Apr 01 - CJD - Major health risk as farm crisis grows
16 Apr 01 - CJD - List of suitable burial sites
16 Apr 01 - CJD - Boiled Brains And BSE For Easter
16 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow's Human Toll
16 Apr 01 - CJD - Beef D iseases Concern Local Farmers
16 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease could trigger patient concerns
16 Apr 01 - CJD - Blood donor data base to stop CJD
14 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Blood Ban
14 Apr 01 - CJD - More BSE Funds Needed
14 Apr 01 - CJD - Traceback for possible BSE cattle
14 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow variant burned at plant
14 Apr 01 - CJD - Collagen manufacturer allays fears over Mad Cow threat



16 Apr 01 - CJD - Major health risk as farm crisis grows

Kamal Ahmed, political editor

Observer--Monday 16 April 2001


Leaked letter reveals fear over BSE carcass disposal

Labour in emergency meeting over slaughter

A package of emergency government measures to control the foot and mouth crisis will expose people to the potential risk of infection by the human form of Mad Cow disease, The Observer can reveal.

Under new guidelines to relax the rules governing the disposal of carcasses, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has told Britain's waste industry that it must use landfill sites across the country to dispose of cattle which might be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

As the Government battled yesterday to stop a political backlash over its handling of the issue, representatives of companies that operate landfill sites demanded 'unlimited indemnity ' from the Government in case the infective prion which causes BSE in cattle escapes and causes human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

The companies fear they will be liable to law suits running into billions of pounds if the source of any new outbreak of human variant CJD is traced back to them. 'It would be a public health disaster,' said one senior source in the industry.

The move reveals the increasing concern over the public health implications of burying and burning hundreds of thousands of animal carcasses. On Friday the Government abandoned the burying of thousands of cattle at Hallburn aerodrome in Cumbria after locals complained of choking smoke , and grease-laden ash covering their houses.

The Government's Cobra task force met in emergency session yesterday and officials launched a rearguard action to stop the slaughter policy spiralling out of control . On Friday Agriculture Minister Nick Brown admitted that the Government was being overwhelmed by the number of livestock which needed to be slaughtered and then disposed of. Yesterday figures revealed that 408,000 carcasses were lying in fields waiting to be buried or burnt, and that more than 500,000 were awaiting slaughter.

William Hague, the leader of the Opposition, said that it was time for the Army to be put in operational control of the epidemic as Maff was clearly failing to cope. 'The speed of the slaughter process still needs to be speeded up further,' he said. 'In about 40 per cent of foot and mouth outbreaks, the animals aren't being slaughtered within 24 hours.'

But a letter obtained by The Observer, written by one of Britain's leading experts on waste disposal, reveals high levels of concern about the public health implications of the new policy.

The letter, written by Dirk Hazell, head of the Environmental Services Association which represents landfill companies, says: 'We are extremely concerned at any pressure exerted on our members to receive carcasses of cattle at landfill.

'Until the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, cattle carcasses over 30 months old were being sent to prescribed outlets (high temperature incineration). We are extremely concerned as to the known resilience and potential toxicity of the BSE prion. The high risk associated with the prion means that much greater caution must be exercised than with the foot and mouth virus which is much less resilient and does not damage human health.

'The order of magnitude in the difference between the prion and the virus is similar to that between Alzheimer's disease and athlete's foot.

'It was not considered safe before the outbreak to landfill carcasses of cattle aged between 30 months and 60 months and we must emphatically insist that our members must have a watertight, permanent and comprehensive indemnity .'

In Northern Ireland a cull of 4,000 cattle was ordered after the province suffered its second case of foot and mouth disease, six weeks after the first case and several weeks after Government controls were supposed to have halted the spread of the disease to new areas.

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Brid Rodgers, confirmed that an emergency meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive would be held tomorrow to discuss the fresh outbreak. 'It goes without saying that this is a huge setback for our agriculture industry,' he said.

The outbreak, on a farm in Ardboe, Co Tyrone, reveals that the disease can lie dormant for weeks, or that it can be carried on the wind across large distances from the British mainland.

Maff is so concerned about a public backlash on the issue of human health that it has started offering families complaining of the smell of rotting carcasses in north Devon temporary accommodation .


16 Apr 01 - CJD - List of suitable burial sites

Reuters

YAHOO--Monday 16 April 2001


The foot-and-mouth crisis committee has earmarked 37 landfill sites in England and Wales for the burial of hundreds of thousands of animal carcasses.

The Environment Agency, Maff, and the Environmental Services Association (ESA), which represents landfill site operators, say the sites listed below are suitable for burial.

Junior agriculture minister Joyce Quin said the sites would not be used for infected carcasses, but animals killed as a precaution to stop the spread of the disease.

Carcasses of cattle born before 1 August 1996 may not be buried in landfill sites on the advice of BSE experts from the Bovine Spongiform Encepalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC).

The landfill operators and sites are listed below:

Anglian

Shanks: Brogborough Landfill Site Woburn Road, Brogborough, Bedfordshire

Shanks: Calvert Landfill Site Brackley Lane, Calvert, Buckinghamshire.

Shanks: Dogsthorpe Landfill Site Welland Road, Dogsthorpe, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

Shanks: High Street, Arlesey, Bedfordshire.

Shanks: Stewartby Landfill Site Green Lane, Stewartby, Bedfordshire.

Shanks: Weldon Landfill Site 28 Kettering Road, Weldon, Corby, Northampshire.

Viridor Waste Disposal: Masons Landfill Site Great Blakenham, Ipswich, Suffolk.

Waste Recycling Group: Station Farm, Brampton Rd, Buckden, Cambridgeshire.

Midlands

Biffa Waste Services: Himley Wood Landfill Site Off Himley Road, Lower Gornal, Near Dudley, West Midlands.

Biffa Waste Services: Marchington Landfill Site Moreton Lane, Drayton in the Clay, Near Uttoxeter, Derbyshire.

Biffa Waste Services: Poplars Landfill Site Lichfield Road, Cannock, Staffordshire.

Biffa Waste Services: Ufton Landfill Site Nr Southam, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

Biffa Waste Services: Waresley Landfill Site Unit 100 (Behind Baggeridge Brick), Hartlebury Trading Estate, Hartlebury, Nr Kidderminster, Worcestershire.

Biffa Waste Services: Wilnecote Landfill Site Rush Lane, Dosthill, Tamworth, Staffordshire.

S Grundon (Waste) Wingmoor Farm Stoke Orchard Road, Bishops Cleeve, Gloucester.

Waste Recycling Group: Staple Quarry Landfill, Grange Lane, Cotham, Nottinghamshire.

Waste Recycling Group: Bilsthorpe Landfill Site Brailwood Road, Bilsthorpe, Newark.

North East

Biffa Waste Services: Howley Park Landfill Site Quarry Lane, Off Drewsbury Road, Woodkirk, Leeds.

Biffa Waste Services: Thornton Fields Landfill Site Guisborough, Cleveland.

Durham County Waste: Chapmens Well, Anfield Plain, Stanley, Co Durham.

Viridor Waste Management: Erin Landfill, Markham Lane, Duckmantel, Chesterfield Derbyshire.

Zero Waste: Port Clarence Landfill Site Off Seal Sands Way, Port Clarence, Billingham, Cleveland.

North West

Biffa Waste Services: Withnell Landfill Site Withnell Brickworks, Bolton Rd, Withnell, Near Chorley, Lancashire.

Cumbria Waste: Flusco, Pike Landfill Site, Newbiggin, Penrith, Cumbria.

Cumbria Waste:Hespin Wood Landfill Site, Todhills, Nr Carlisle Cumbria.

Waste Recycling Group: Maw Green Landfill Site Maw Green Road, Coppenhall, Crewe, Cheshire.

South West

Devon Waste Management: Deep Moor Landfill Site High Bullen, St Giles in the Wood, Torrington, North Devon.

Viridor Waste Management: Heathfield Landfill John Acres Lane, Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot, Devon.

Viridor Waste Management: Sands Farm, Sandpit Road, Calne, Wiltshire

Viridor Waste Management: Westbury, Trowbridge Road, Wiltshire.

Southern

Biffa Waste Services: Brockhurst Wood, Warnham, West Sussex

Biffa Waste Services: Shakespeare Farm Shakespeare Farm Road, St Mary Hoo, Rochester, Kent.

Viridor Waste Management: Squabb Wood, Salisbury Road, Romsey, Hampshire.

Viridor Waste Management: Horton, Small Dole, West Sussex.

Wales

Biffa Waste Services: Trecatti Landfill Site Fochriw Road, Nr Methyr Tydfil, South Wales.

Shanks: Dark Lane, Burton, Roffett, Wrexham.

Shanks:Pwllfawatkin Waste Management Facility Pwllfawatkin Farm, Rhydyfro, Pontardawe, Swansea, West Glamorgan.


16 Apr 01 - CJD - Boiled Brains And BSE For Easter

Reuters

YAHOO--Monday 16 April 2001


This press release is transmitted on behalf of The Green Party

"Burning 100 cows can release between 6 and 30 lethal doses of BSE through smoke," says Green medical advisor On Easter Monday a Green Party medical advisor will urge the Prime Minister to accept technical advice on burning cattle, in order to reduce the risk of spreading BSE and vCJD (the human form of Mad Cow disease).

Dr Richard Lawson, a West Country general practitioner and writer on public health, who is also the Green Party's foot-and-mouth campaign coordinator, explains: "When the cattle are burned in these foot-and-mouth pyres, their brains literally boil.

This results in a spurting of potentially BSE-infected matter up into the plume of smoke.

BSE agent is extremely heat-resistant, so there is a significant risk of spreading deadly diseases from these pyres." The Greens have been arguing for vaccination rather than the mass slaughter of healthy animals, and for a revolution in farming and animal welfare in order to minimise the spread of foot-and-mouth in future.

But they are now turning their attention to ways minimising the dangers posed by the government faulty crisis-management.

Dr Lawson continued: "The government shouldn't have created this disposal problem in any case.

But since it has, we're urging Tony Blair to order that the cattle must be burned in the least dangerous way.

"This means constructing the pyre so that the cows' skulls are facing into the pyre, not upwards or outwards, so that the boiling brains are less likely to spurt potentially deadly material into the air to spread with the smoke." Dr Lawson has described some of the government's advice on BSE in pyres smoke "scientific balderdash." The Green Party has made other recommendations including protective gear for slaughterers and fire tenders, evacuation of children and young people from areas where the smoke is appreciable as a mist in the air, an end to the mass slaughter policy, and an emergency vaccination programme.

UNS Contact: Dr Richard Lawson, 01934 835140 or email rlawson@gn.apc.org or Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, Green Party press office, 0161 225 4863 or email media@greenpartynw.fsnet.co.uk Website: http://www.greenparty.org.uk


16 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow's Human Toll

Philip Yam

Scientific Americam--Monday 16 April 2001


The unfolding mystery of prion disease and its ultimate casualties

A TOUGH LITTLE NEURO-INVADER

Malformed prions are thought to cause TSEs. But not all the evidence supports this so-called proteIndependentonly theory. A few researchers believe some kind of mini virus might be involved, but there has been no evidence of nucleic acids in infectious prions. In any case, the malformed prions are necessary to produce TSE, and getting rid of them is difficult, because the prions

- Withstand typical cooking temperatures

- Are impervious to radiation (one argument against viral involvement)

- Resist proteases, enzymes that break down protein

Sterilizing instruments against abnormal prions can be tricky. Autoclaving at 134 degrees Celsius inactivates them, but paradoxically, autoclaving at 138 degrees C does not. A prior soak in sodium hydroxide is recommended.

BREACHING THE SPECIES BARRIER

Cows probably first got BSE by eating feed containing rendered, scrapie-infected sheep. In the U.K., several dozen cats came down with a feline version of BSE after eating infected pet food. (Fortunately, none of the families with the cats appear to have contracted infectious prions.)

In the U.S., there's a slim chance that a TSE called chronic wasting disease (CWD), seen in wild elk and deer in the Midwest, could find its way to cattle or to humans. In some areas, the CWD infection rate runs about 18 percent-some five times higher than BSE at its worst in the U.K. "Some in the U.S. may be being a little naive" about CWD, warns Adriano Aguzzi of the University of Zurich, because no one knows how it spreads in the wild. Moreover, studies have shown that CWD could infect cattle, albeit only when the diseased tissue is injected into the brain. But Paul Brown of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that CWD has been around for decades and has not spread or led to a single case of vCJD, even among hunters who may have eaten infected animals. "I'm not particularly worried about a wildfire spread, given the history," Brown says.

. First, there are feelings of anxiety and depression. A wobbly gait and an uncertain grip soon develop. Within a few months come memory loss, confusion, an inability to recognize familiar faces. Body and mind deteriorate until death occurs. From the symptoms, one might conclude Alzheimer's disease-except that the illness completes its job in about a year, and patients are on average 29 years old. Only an autopsy will reveal, from the spongy mess that was the brain, that the patient died of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)-the human form of the dread Mad Cow disease.

PRECAUTIONARY SLAUGHTERS combat BSE .

Since the first deaths in 1995, about 100 people have succumbed to vCJD-the vast majority in the U.K., where 15 died in 1999 and 27 last year, according to the U.K. Department of Health. The illness arises primarily through eating beef tainted by the substance that causes Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Between 1980 and 1996 in the U.K., 750,000 cattle infected with BSE were slaughtered for human consumption, and each cow could have exposed up to 500,000 people. Most of Britain's 60 million residents and untold numbers of tourists may therefore have come into contact with the BSE agent.

But grounding the risk in solid numbers has been nearly impossible, because so little is known about the relentless neuro-invader. Researchers are struggling to determine how much of a threat vCJD truly poses and to devise tests that can detect people who may be silently harboring the braIndependentwasting pathogen. Unlike other diseases, BSE, vCJD and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) such as scrapie apparently do not arise from bacteria or viruses-or anything having DNA or RNA. The culprit appears to be malformed versions of protein particles called prions, which normally are coiled into a helix and help to maintain the integrity of nerve cells. Infectious prions are more sheetlike and somehow coax normal prion proteins to fold into the infectious form.

The incubation time is the key to determining the vCJD toll. (The infectious prions hide out in lymph tissue before assaulting the brain.) One estimate is 10 to 15 years, based on the assumption that the initial cases of vCJD stemmed from the earliest BSE outbreak, which began in the early 1980s and peaked in 1992. Such an incubation length would yield only several hundred vCJD cases, according to a study by epidemiologist Neil M. Ferguson and his colleagues at the University of Oxford. But 136,000 deaths are possible. In that case, "the incubation period of vCJD would have to be large-on the order of 60 years," Ferguson says. "This would make it unusual, but it cannot be ruled out." Complicating the issue is the unknown lethal dose. Most researchers assume that the more infected beef eaten, the greater the risk. But the type of beef also matters. Processed meats such as sausage may be the riskiest, because they are more likely to contain bits of brain and spinal cord, where prions abound. (One theory of why vCJD strikes younger people is that they consume a lot of processed foods.)

Genetics also plays a role. All vCJD patients thus far have had a particular variation on their prion gene, one that occurs in 40 percent of the Caucasian population. In fact, the Oxford estimates consider only these people. Whether the other 60 percent are immune to infectious prions or can resist them longer is unknown-if the latter, the ultimate number of casualties could jump dramatically.

A huge pool of asymptomatic, or silent, carriers could contaminate the blood supply or surgical instruments, if the experience with the conventional form of CJD, called sporadic CJD, is any indication. This condition results from a rare genetic mutation and is not transmissible the way vCJD is. But it has spread inadvertently through, for instance, the use of growth hormone or corneas taken from infected cadavers. In the U.K., 6.6 percent of sporadic CJD cases have occurred since 1985 because of medical procedures. The only surefire diagnostic, says Bruce Chesebro, a viral epidemiologist at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., is to examine brain sections. Hence, many investigators are working on simple diagnostics, such as blood tests. It won't be easy. "There may not be enough prion protein in the blood to detect," notes Paul Brown of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. But picking out the infectious prions and then amplifying them to more obvious levels may be feasible. Last fall neuropathologist Adriano Aguzzi of the University of Zurich and his colleagues discovered that plasminogen, a natural blood component, clings to infectious prions but not to normal ones. Other researchers claim to have made antibodies that do the same thing. Alternatively, indirect markers of infection may exist: TSEs lead to a drop in the expression of a protein factor in precursor red blood cells.

A convenient diagnostic might enable what Aguzzi calls "postexposure prophylaxis"-preventing infectious prions from reaching the brain. "There are many possibilities one can think of to interfere with prion spread," comments Aguzzi, whose group has found a molecule from spleen cells that keeps prions from moving out of the gut. Researchers can "design little pieces of protein similar but not identical to prions to get in the way" of infectious prions, Brown suggests. Such approaches are more pragmatic than a cure, Aguzzi says, because by the time vCJD symptoms show, "the brain is a mess. There's so much damage, it's not realistic that something can be done with the current medical technology."

Strict controls on rendering throughout Europe-most notably, banning mammalian protein in ruminant feed-have reduced BSE cases dramatically. Violations, however, still pose a hazard: earlier this year two German abattoirs lost their licenses for mixing spinal cord material with feed. Such lapses are the only way the U.S. would see BSE, Brown thinks. "I am convinced we do not have BSE in this country," he states. "If these regulations are followed strictly, we never will." But mistakes happen: the government reported in January that about 25 percent of U.S. renderers were being lax, such as not labeling feed properly. And considering the popularity of global travel, a case of vCJD in the U.S. may be only a matter of time.


16 Apr 01 - CJD - Beef D iseases Concern Local Farmers

Dean Baker, Columbian staff writer

The Columbian--Monday 16 April 2001


Chances Of Mad Cow Or Foot-And Mouth Occurring In Clark County Pastures Are Slim

Even though America's livestock are all but free of the two big diseases that have laid waste to herds in Europe in the past two years, Clark County's farmers, ranchers and feedlot operators are holding their breath.

They're afraid. Not just for Americans who could yet come down with a new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a human form of Mad Cow disease that can kill. And not just that Mad Cow or foot-and-mouth diseases may show up in livestock here.

They're just as scared that consumers may panic: Americans may opt to eat less beef.

"Well, it sort of worries you," said Dick Oliver, 76, strolling with a bucket of malt and barley in hand to pamper his cows north of Camas. He and his wife, Virginia, 71, are raising nine purebred cows and five calves on their 18-acre Indian Camp Limousin Ranch on Lacamas Heights.

"You're not just scared for yourself," said Oliver, a retired teacher who was born on an Idaho dairy farm and has raised cattle all his life, including the 1970s when he also taught sixth, seventh and eighth grades in Camas.

"But you worry for all the people that raise cattle because it's devastating, even if it's just because people say they won't eat hamburger," Oliver said.

He dumps the feed pellets on green pasture grass, and cows stroll over for a pat and a treat.

The Olivers' bucolic ranch is 4,800 miles and an ocean away from Europe, where a form of Mad Cow disease has killed 95 people, and foot-and-mouth has infected 180,000 cattle, sheep and pigs leading to the destruction of 5 million animals to prevent the spread of the disease.

The Olivers' brown cows seem safe as are the rest of Clark County's 21,000 cattle, grazing in green pastures or fattening on hay, grain and soybean meal in feedlots.

After all, no cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been found in the United States for 72 years. And, even though a Mad Cow-type disease was found last year in Vermont sheep, no cases of human variants of the disease have been seen in the United States.

Yet, even across all that time and distance, the Olivers feel threatened, not just by diseases but by the public's potential to lose its appetite for steaks and burgers.

A negative reaction to beef may be developing in consumers. Shares in McDonald's Corp. are off 30 percent this year. No one knows if cattle disease is a reason. And many Internet Web sites are filled with anTimesbeef propaganda.

The idea that America may choose fish or chicken instead of beef threatens the Olivers, who supplement their income by raising calves from January to November and then selling them -- lately at 87 cents a pound.

"We don't make any money," he said. "But it helps with the income tax."

In simplest terms, Clark County farmers such as the Olivers are quietly in a cold sweat over the health catastrophe that has struck Europe.

What is the risk?

There's reason for caution, but no reason to panic.

The risk that foot-and-mouth disease will strike somewhere in America is "about even," said Washington state veterinarian Robert Mead. "At the high end of risk, I'd say it's 50-50, but the risk may be as low as one chance in 10."

Highly contagious, foot-and-mouth can be carried by the wind, human clothing and farm equipment such as on tractors and trucks.

"Every time the infected animal exhales it spreads the disease," said Mead. "But when the animal stops breathing, the spread stops. The virus doesn't survive."

When animal carcasses are burned, the heat obliterates the virus, Mead said. That's what is going on in Europe. Millions of critters have been slaughtered, burned and buried.

Although foot-and-mouth disease apparently won't harm humans, it quickly could kill a huge segment of the meat industry.

The highly contagious viral disease affects most cloven-foot animals, including cattle, sheep, goats and swine. Wild herbivores such as bison, deer, antelope, reindeer, llama, camel, giraffe and elephant are also susceptible. Horses don't get it.

The disease produces painful, fluid-filled blisters on the tongue, lips and other tissue of the mouth or udders and teats, between toes and around the hoof.

Although many animals survive the disease, it lowers their milk and meat production.

It's that loss of productivity that ruins trade. Many countries bar their doors to animal products from infected nations. Vaccinations, which can be marginally successful, are seldom used because they produce symptoms in noninfected animals. In tests, the livestock all look the same, which could lead to embargoes because there would be no way to differentiate the healthy vaccinated animals from the infected ones.

Since foot-and-mouth first struck in Great Britain in 1984, 4.5 million cattle have been slaughtered to prevent further spread from the 180,000 cattle that were infected.

Hundreds of cases also have been found in Ireland, Portugal, France and Switzerland. Fewer cases have occurred in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Leichtenstein, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The disease is common in Africa and has been rampant at times in Taiwan, China and the former Soviet Union.

It hasn't showed up in America.

If foot-and-mouth disease arrived in Vancouver, it's likely all the cattle would be killed, along with many llama, sheep, pigs and goats. Quarantine and slaughter are the prescribed remedies for the fast-spreading disease.

At risk in Washington state are 1.2 million cattle, 50,000 sheep, 30,000 breeding hogs, and a livestock industry worth nearly $1.3 billion.

Keeping threat at bay

Full-scale plans to bar the diseases from these shores -- as well as rules of quarantine and slaughter, if needed -- have been refined by the federal and state governments.

So far, the extensive plans are simply theory.

"Our goal is prevention through exclusions," said Kathy Connell, deputy state veterinarian. "The risk is real. I'm impressed by the number of calls we've received from producers wanting to make sure what to do."

Mead said all visitors from infected countries are disinfected and kept away from farms for at least five days.

"But people are not a very good vector (carrier) even though they can carry the virus in their throats for 24 to 48 hours," Mead said. "That doesn't seem to be a significant problem, as long as people shower and disinfect. We don't think that's a significant means of transmission."

Even though foot-and-mouth virus can be carried in the human throat, it won't make a human sick, Mead said.

But it can infect animals. For a while, visitors arriving at U.S. airports from infected countries were required to step into a foot bath to rinse their shoes, he said.

Once the virus dries up, it dies.

Danger overstated?

While the European infections are dangerous, Mead said, they're nothing new.

The virus has been active all around the world for a decade, has been known for more than 200 years, and hasn't yet got into the United States, he said.

Last year, he said, 4,000 swine herds got foot-and-mouth in Taiwan and little was said about it, just as little note has been made of outbreaks in Mongolia, China, the former Soviet Union, Argentina and Colombia.

"We've been living with this threat for quite awhile," he said. "It just seems more serious because we identify so closely with England, with the rolling green hills of Scotland and so on."

Generally, Connell said, Washington farmers should not allow travelers from infected countries on their farms, not for at least five days after their return from Europe.

The farmers also can make sure their feed contains no animal protein. They can make sure clothing and equipment are disinfected, that no infected domestic animals, pets or wildlife come in contact with stock, and they can monitor livestock health.

Patti Brumbach of the Washington Beef Commission in Seattle said her organization sent to the state's 11,000 producers of beef and dairy cattle 10 steps to keep the disease out of the state.

"The battle is at the border," she said. "The critical thing we need to understand is neither disease is here right now, due to the strong barriers we've had in place for years."

Mad Cow disease is far less likely than foot-and-mouth to show up in U.S. livestock, Mead said.

But he said he wouldn't be surprised if some U.S. citizen comes down with new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of Mad Cow disease found in people exposed by eating infected beef or beef products in England before 1986.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob has an incubation period as long as 15 years. It's nearly inevitable that some American will come down with new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob before long, Mead said.

It's unlikely that Mad Cow disease will show up in livestock here because in 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned use of meat or meat products in ruminant animal feed. It can still be used in cat, dog and poultry food.

The producers' biggest fear seems to be negative publicity.

"We're all so skittish, we're running for cover," said Brush Prairie feedlot operator Neil Schoen. "There are all these people out there -- ALF (Animal Liberation Front) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). You don't know what they might do."

Two defenders of cattle

The producers aren't facing the diseases alone.

The federal border police and the advertising industry are joined to protect the $40 billion U.S. beef industry. While the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service work to keep the disease out of America, several cattle and meat organizations work to keep consumers coming back to the supermarket meat case.

Customs and USDA officials are under heightened alert at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and at all seaports. Officials also are cautious at Portland International, but the risk is smaller there because its only international flights come from British Columbia.

While the feds do their work, the meat organizations line up on their Web sites and with spokesmen ready to assure the public about the safety of U.S. meat.

These organizations include the National Meat Association, Clark County Cattle Producers Association, Washington Cattle Feeders Association, Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Beef Commission and many others.

At the cattle feeders association, Wendy Peay at Ellensburg said her organization watches the feed of 300,000 head of cattle at a time, or about 1 million cattle annually, in the six largest feedlots in the state.

"We've got some big customers," she said "IBP in Pasco does 3,000 head a day, and some days more, and Washington Beef takes 1,000, so that's a lot of cattle."

All the cattle kept by the organization's 15-member feed lots use feed free of animal products, she said.

"Feed comes from local farmers, except for some larger lots where feed is moved in from the Midwest. Every lot has a consulting nutritionist, and we make sure the cattle eat a healthy balanced diet. That's in our interest."

The border guards are working hard, said Roger Holman, head of APHIS at Sea-Tac airport.

"We are asking 100 percent of passengers from foot-and-mouth disease countries if they've been on a farm or ranch, or in contact with wildlife," he said. If they have, they're disinfected and kept away from U.S. farms.

Ships from foreign ports are closely examined, said Don Givens, in charge of APHIS at Portland.

"They're taking nothing for granted," said Mead. "At Sea-Tac they're screening everyone and everything from the United Kingdom. They are even putting on a second dog."

APHIS uses beagles to help test the travelers, he said. They sniff everyone's luggage for banned meat or meat products.

So far the dogs have been disappointed.

"They haven't found much at all," he said.

Foot-and-mouth Disease

* Rarely infects humans, and then only causes mild flulike symptoms

* Is not a food safety issue

* Can infect most cloven-foot animals such as cattle, sheep, swine, goats, bison, deer, antelope, reindeer, llama, camel, giraffe and elephant, but never horses

* Last seen in Washington state in 1910 and in the U.S. in 1929

* Can be carried by humans, through clothing, shoes or even in the throat.

* Endemic throughout much of Europe, Asia, Africa and South America

* No effective treatment for animals; many would survive but with lower production and may be reinfected.

* Vaccines can be used, but protected animals are usually not totally resistant, and revaccination is needed every four to six months.

* Control involves quarantine, movement restrictions and slaughter or disposal of all affected livestock. Five million animals have been slaughtered since 1984.

Mad Cow-type diseases

* A family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

* Cattle contract what is known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Sheep get scrapie, a related disease but now also may contract Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Wild game, such as elk and deer, get chronic wasting disease, another related disease. Zoo animals also have contracted the disease.

* Was presumed not to affect humans until people in Britain contracted new variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, from eating contaminated cattle. New variant CJD has killed 95 people, primarily in the United Kingdom, since 1990.

* Has been traced back to cattle fed either with infected sheep or infected cattle. Such feeding practices are banned in the United States.

* The human version of Mad Cow, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is distinctly different from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has spontaneously occurred in humans for decades.

* Is prompting increasing number of restrictions on who can give blood as a hedge against the unanswered question of whether blood transfusions can spread the infection.


16 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease could trigger patient concerns

By Susan J. Landers, AMNews staff

Amed News--Monday 16 April 2001


So far, public health controls have prevented the fatal illness from developing a foothold in the United States.

Washington -- Mad Cow disease has transformed the diets of many Europeans, and foot-and-mouth disease is giving pause to tourists contemplating a summer trip to Great Britain.

The same thing could have happened in the United States, but it didn't. Still, the recent prominence of these news stories may trigger questions about nutrition, safety and even symptoms in the exam room.

Richard T. Johnson, MD, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, offered an example. The parents of a young woman asked about her inability to do well in algebra. She had just completed a semester in Ireland, where Mad Cow disease had been identified. Could her learning difficulty be a sign that she had been exposed while abroad? Not a chance, said Dr. Johnson, who also serves as a special adviser to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Laypeople are quite aware the disease exists, he said. But physicians can tell their patients that the United States has never experienced a case of Mad Cow disease, otherwise known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

The quarantine and the safeguards to prevent the disease from getting into this country are reasonable, said Dr. Johnson. "I think most of us feel there is more that can be done, but the safeguards are working at this point."

"However, we can't say that it can't happen, because it can happen," he said. But even if a cow comes down with the disease, it is unlikely to spread. A whole second set of regulations comes into play at that point. "And most of those are intact," said Dr. Johnson.

In addition, patients need to understand that BSE is very different from foot-and-mouth disease, which is also spreading in many European countries. The latter, which afflicts cloven-hoofed animals such as cows, sheep, goats and deer, poses virtually no risk of human infection. The last case of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States occurred in 1929.

Nonetheless, even the possibility that Mad Cow could arrive here and lead to an outbreak of the invariably fatal human form, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or vCJD, has led government officials to examine the safeguards now in place.

Congressional concern was evident during an April 4 Senate commerce subcommittee hearing.

"While the risks may be low, we cannot be complacent," said Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald (R, Ill).

Preventive measures that were adopted several years ago by federal agencies and the meat industry, as well as a wide ocean between the United States and Great Britain, were credited during the hearing with halting the disease's spread to this country.

The precautions have included bans on imports of beef, sheep, goats and other ruminant animals from numerous affected countries as well as prohibitions on blood donations from people who have lived in affected areas.

Vaccine manufacturers were also recently warned to be more vigilant in their use of bovine materials from countries harboring BSE after several manufacturers were found to have ignored earlier recommendations to avoid such products.

But, "the United States does not face the same situation as does Europe," said William D. Hueston, DVM, PhD, professor at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va. He testified before the Senate panel.

To date there have been more than 170,000 cases of BSE reported in Europe, with the majority occurring in Great Britain, noted Fitzgerald.

Keeping the door barred

The development of vCJD in humans has been traced to the consumption of beef products contaminated by the central nervous system tissue of a cow carrying BSE, according to researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The disease is distinct from the classic, but also fatal, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has remained stable at infection rates of about one case per million.

The incubation period for vCJD is lengthy, with estimates ranging from five to 20 years. And since the 1986 start of an epidemic of BSE in the United Kingdom, there has been a wave of vCJD among humans, according to the January-February issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Since 1995, 97 cases of vCJD have been confirmed, primarily in Great Britain, with a few in other countries, said researchers.

To eliminate the risks of transmission from these locations, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has, since 1989, prohibited the importation of live, hoofed animals or their products from countries where BSE exists in native cattle. In December 1997, the ban was extended to include hoofed animals, and products derived from them, from all of Europe.

Alfonso Torres, a USDA deputy administrator, told the panel that the USDA monitors animals imported before the ban went into effect for signs of the disease. And Canada and Mexico have implemented safeguards to ensure that infected animals do not cross their borders.

Precautions have also been taken to prevent the transmission of vCJD via blood donations from apparently healthy individuals who may be incubating the disease. Anyone who has lived in or visited the United Kingdom for a cumulative period of six months or more during 1980 to 1996 is excluded from donating blood. In January, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended that the ban on blood donations be expanded to include those who lived in France, Ireland or Portugal for a cumulative period of 10 years.

Some people also worry about risks posed by vaccines that include bovine products. But the FDA considers the chance of exposure in this manner to be "remote and theoretical." The AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs also assessed the risk in 1999 and concluded that adequate guidelines existed to prevent high-risk bovine materials from contaminating products intended for human use.

And although several vaccine manufacturers were recently found to have disregarded the FDA guidelines that materials from countries affected by BSE no longer be used, the FDA advisory committee agreed that the risk of disease transmission via these vaccines, which include polio and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, is extremely small.

But such failures point up the need for the government to regulate rather than issue recommendations, Peter Lurie, MD, MPH, deputy director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, told the Senate panel. He urged the government to take more forceful action to ensure compliance with existing recommendations and rules.

Some notes about TSEs

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs, are fatal neurodegenerative diseases that occur in humans and animals. They share a characteristic brain pathology that has the appearance of spongy holes in the brain as well as a long incubation period.

Animal TSEs include Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease, and scrapie in sheep.

Human TSEs include classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease as well as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which was first recognized in 1996. The latter is believed to be caused by eating meat contaminated by BSE.

Other TSEs that affect humans include fatal familial insomnia and kuru.


16 Apr 01 - CJD - Blood donor data base to stop CJD

Staff Reporter

ninemsn--Monday 16 April 2001


A travel history of Australian blood donors will be created to prevent transmission of the human equivalent of Mad Cow disease.

Australia's expert committee on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow disease, and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), will help compile the blood donor data base.

The committee announced the initiative in Melbourne today in response to an increase in BSE cases.

Last year, blood donations were banned from anyone who spent six months or more in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1986.

Committee chairman Graeme Ryan said there was no need to ban blood donations from those who had spent time on the European mainland.

But he said the ongoing BSE and CJD epidemic in the UK showed Australia had to be well prepared in its response to the diseases.

Professor Ryan said the committee would work with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to compile the database, which would detail blood donor travel history between 1980 and 2001.

CJD is an infectious braIndependentdeteriorating disease for which there is no treatment or cure.

It is a member of the class of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, which include BSE.

Meanwhile, Dr Ryan said the committee today expressed its support for new Federal Government action to extend a ban on animal protiens in stock feeds to include material derived from pigs, horses and kangaroos.

He said the ban was extended because of uncertainty over BSE transmission to cattle and sheep from animal protiens.

Overall, he said measures to keep Mad Cow disease out of Australia had so far proved adequate, but there were still no grounds for complacency.


14 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Blood Ban

Associated Press

CBS News--Saturday 14 April 2001


American Red Cross To Bar Blood From Western Europe

Fear That Blood Could Be Tainted By Mad Cow Disease

Critics Say Move Could Decimate U.S. Blood Supply

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2001

(CBS) In a major expansion of the U.S. firewall against Mad Cow disease, the American Red Cross now says it will begin banning blood donations from anywhere in Western Europe , not just Great Britain, this summer.

The ban puts the Red Cross at odds with critics who say it is too conservative and threatens the entire U.S. blood supply, reports CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

The Red Cross, which supplies half of all blood donations in America, says it has no choice. Because Mad Cow disease has spread beyond Great Britain and because there is no blood test for the human variation, the Red Cross will decline blood donations from anyone who has lived six months or more anywhere in Europe.

"We believe this poses a risk that we do not believe we should take," says Dr. Bernadine Healy, president of the American Red Cross and a medical consultant to CBS News.

"We don't want to frighten anyone," says Healy. "We are not saying this is a high risk or a low risk, all we are saying is there is a risk out there."

But the Red Cross decision could be frightening to many Americans. In New York City, for example, one-fourth of the blood supply is donated directly from Europe. This isn't blood from Americans who've lived there, it's blood from European donors who give New York 3,000 units a week, to make up the city's shortfall.

Take this away, says Dr. Robert Jones, head of the New York Blood Center, and you get chaos.

"We would have a medical care crisis," Jones says. He points out that a 25 percent loss of blood donations would close emergency rooms, delay surgeries and put patients in real danger - when the risk of getting Mad Cow from human blood hasn't been proven.

"You have to ask yourself when you are weighing these risks and dangers, which is the greater risk and danger," Jones says.

This disagreement between the Red Cross and New York City will soon be settled by the Food and Drug Administration, which will set a national policy on the exclusion of blood donors.

Whenever the ruling comes, it will only highlight what isn't known about Mad Cow. Blood safety is critical to the U.S. defense line against the disease, yet the experts sharply disagree on where to draw that line.


14 Apr 01 - CJD - More BSE Funds Needed

Staff Reporter

Grain Net--Saturday 14 April 2001


AFIA Details New Industry Certification Program, Tells Senate Panel More BSE Funds Needed

Washington, DC--Measures by the feed industry to prevent BSE from entering the United States, including creation of a new third-party facility certification program were outlined by Richard Sellers, vice president of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), before a U.S. Senate panel here April 4.

In addition to the safeguards imposed by AFIA, Sellers said that additional funds are needed for federal agencies to adequately fulfill their roles in BSE prevention.

Sellers, who directs AFIA's feed control and nutrition programs, appeared as a key witness before the subcommittee on consumer affairs, foreign commerce and tourism of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

"We are...proud that no case of BSE has ever been detected in the US, and we are united in our resolve that an effective marriage of government and industry action will continue to keep the US BSE-free," Sellers said, referring to the animal agriculture coalition working with the government on prevention and containment programs.

Sellers called for "adequate funding to FDA and USDA so that current and future BSE control programs can be conducted in the most effective manner possible.

"This funding is necessary to expand research on prion disease transmission, to find quick diagnosis and analytical test methods, provide increased manpower at technology at American ports...and should the unthinkable occur, contain any BSE outbreak to prevent spread of the disease." he said.

For more information, call Rex Runyon at 703-524-0810


14 Apr 01 - CJD - Traceback for possible BSE cattle

Staff Reporter

ABC News--Saturday 14 April 2001


It's been revealed that twenty head of imported cattle which could be carrying Mad Cow disease are missing in Australia.

But the beef industry body, Safemeat, believes it's unlikely that the stud cattle imported from Europe in the late 1980s were ever exposed to BSE.

Authorities have traced all UK and European cattle which were imported before the cut-off date of 1992, and found around 480 animals.

Those which have died since have all tested negative for BSE.

Safemeat spokesperson David Palmer says the industry is as confident as it can be that the twenty missing cattle are not carrying the disease.

David Palmer: The few that haven't been traced at this stage, investigations continue. They have been very successful to date, I'd say less than twenty are missing out of five hundred which has been a great effort, but above all, all those that have been processed have been proved negative. There 's no lineal transmission suggested. There is a whole-of-life quarantine placed on those that are currently still alive, and all in all, we think that the program has been very well handled. There's been some buybacks over the years, but mainly it is a whole-of-life quarantine remaining on farm.


14 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow variant burned at plant

By Brenda J. Linert

Tribune Chronicle--Saturday 14 April 2001


WARREN ญญ After being secured in a locked refrigerator for about a day, roughly three boxes of research materials labeled "Mad Cow" were to be burned Thursday by workers at the medical waste incineration plant on Pine Avenue S.E., officials said.

Rich Kogler, chief operating officer for the company that owns the plant, confirmed that the boxes contained experimental variants of Mad Cow disease. The materials had been shipped from a large Ohio hospital that had been conducting experiments on the human variant of Mad Cow disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD. Experts call CJD a cousIndependentdisease to Mad Cow.

Mad Cow disease, or bovine spongiform encaphalopathy, is a disease that has infected cattle mostly in the United Kingdom. The disease has not made its way to the states, according to U.S. health officials. Ohio Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey has described it as "one of the most frightening diseases known to man."

The neurological disorder is believed to spread from cattle that eat infected feed. When someone then eats the infected beef, the disease travels to the brain, and eventually kills the person. There is no known cure for bovine spongiform encaphalopathy.

After questioning the proper form of disposal Wednesday, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials said the materials should be incinerated, Kogler said.

"It was already pre-treated at the hospital, so we are sort of finishing the job," Kogler said Thursday afternoon. "The employees are trained to handle any kind of hazardous infectious materials. This material also is in a sealed box, so nobody opens up anything or looks in it."

Kogler acknowledged that no one is certain that the germs would not spread through the air, but saw no cause for concern because the form of incineration used at the plant would kill the germs before they could spread.

"It's a protein material. It's a virus that gets incinerated at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, so there's nothing that comes out of the (smoke) stack. Nothing living can go in there and come out alive," Kogler said.

Ohio EPA media relations coordinator Andy Thompson confirmed that the state agency requires medical waste be incinerated at temperatures exceeding 1600 F for a specific length of time.

Thompson and officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture added that, other than general medical waste disposal regulations, there are no other specific guidelines for disposing of Mad Cow-infected materials. He said the Ohio EPA is researching the scientific data to see if further regulations are necessary.

Kogler declined to identify the hospital that shipped the materials. The EPA's Thompson said he is aware that a few larger Ohio hospitals have been doing experimental lab work on the disease's human variant.

Jerry Redding, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture said his is the only organization in the nation currently conducting Mad Cow research, but acknowledged that several hospitals are researching Creutzfeldt-Jakob.

Cases of CJD have been reported in the U.S., and statistics show it kills at an estimated 1 peron in a million each year, worldwide.

A Niles man died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob in 1995. Ron Berry's widow, Marlane said she is tired of hearing on television that the disease has not made its way to the U.S. None of her husband's doctors could tell how he contracted the disease.

The Warren medical waste plant was purchased by Lake Forest, Ill., based Stericycle in November 1999 from Browning-Ferris Industries. The BFI sign still appears out front because the plant's license is still registered to BFI, Kogler said. He said Stericycle is awaiting formal EPA approval to finalize the changeover, which was requested in late 1999.


14 Apr 01 - CJD - Collagen manufacturer allays fears over Mad Cow threat

Marlene Habib, The Canadian Press

National Post--Saturday 14 April 2001


Collagen derived from cattle and used for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is coming under scrutiny because of fears about Mad Cow disease .

Numerous products containing collagen are injected into the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scars and to repair damage caused by accidents and disease. Collagen, a protein found in animal connective tissue, comes from the hides of cattle.

Of all the injectable collagen-based products available in Canada, only Artecoll -- which also contains an artificial material -- has come from sources in Europe, where Mad Cow disease is a concern. "We're getting questions from physicians to reassure them that the product is safe," said Richard Ippersiel, director of scientific affairs for Canderm Pharma, the Montreal-based company that distributes Artecoll , made by Netherlands-based Rofil Medical International.

"Some consumers are also thinking twice before using Artecoll." As a result, Ippersiel said, Rofil has shifted its source from Germany to herds in the United States. The first new batches are arriving in doctors' offices this week. "We're absolutely confident about the safety of the collagen that's in our product," he said. "But due to the emerging concern of consumers and all the hubbub of Mad Cow disease, we've switched the collagen source to U.S. cattle, to allay the concerns of consumers."

Mad Cow has been linked to some 90 deaths in Europe from the human form of the braIndependentwasting disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob. Health Canada spokeswoman Roslyn Tremblay says there are no documented cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease transmitted through cosmetic products. Most cosmetics and personal-care products are manufactured in Canada and most ingredients are from North American sources, according to Health Canada.