Document Directory

16 May 01 - CJD - A Crisis for Britain
16 May 01 - CJD - Scientists fear second wave of human BSE
16 May 01 - CJD - Waves of Mad Cow cases could yet hit humans
16 May 01 - CJD - Scientists increase their forecasts of CJD epidemic
16 May 01 - CJD - UK scientists say vCJD epidemic is just tip of the iceberg
16 May 01 - CJD - BSE row scientist in poll challenge to Nick Brown
16 May 01 - CJD - Worst of BSE crisis may still be to come
16 May 01 - CJD - Scientists warn vCJD epidemic not over
16 May 01 - CJD - vCJD could become epidemic lasting decades: scientists
15 May 01 - CJD - CJD epidemic could last decades: scientists
14 May 01 - CJD - CJD scientists warn of 'second wave'
13 May 01 - CJD - CJD clusters suspected in six new areas of Britain
13 May 01 - CJD - Australian's Death May Be Linked To Human Form Of Mad Cow
13 May 01 - CJD - 'Mad Cow' eyed in Aussie's death
13 May 01 - CJD - FDA rebukes top processor of human tissue
12 May 01 - CJD - UK food agency says banned spinal cord found in imported Danish beef
12 May 01 - CJD - MAFF 'not conducting BSE infection trials in birds'
12 May 01 - CJD - Son not told of CJD
12 May 01 - CJD - Researcher calls for autoclaving in BSE prevention
12 May 01 - CJD - UK error may have fuelled fears of BSE risk in India
12 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease concern could change chicken feed
12 May 01 - CJD - The whole truth about mad Mad Cow disease
12 May 01 - CJD - Calls to scrap Maff in rural shake-up
12 May 01 - CJD - More BSE cases but minister insists beef is safe
12 May 01 - CJD - Bayer says its plasma purification can remove CJD prions
12 May 01 - CJD - Byrne welcomes EP adoption of BSE legislation
12 May 01 - CJD - Nation isn't doing enough to detect Mad Cow disease, CWRU experts say
12 May 01 - CJD - German ostriches may have Mad Cow disease



16 May 01 - CJD - A Crisis for Britain

CBC editorial

CBC--Wednesday 16 May 2001


Since its official diagnosis in 1986, Mad Cow disease or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE, has been a puzzle for scientists, a headache for governments, and a worry for consumers of beef.

The disease, currently threatening herds throughout the EU, was initially centred in Britain. A veterinarian working with cattle saw the first signs of BSE there in 1985. The following year, Britain's central veterinary laboratory officially diagnosed Mad Cow disease.

Its origins were a mystery, and its similarity to a human disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, CJD, were troubling. Researchers started looking for the source of BSE, and experimenting to see if the disease could be transmitted between species.

In 1988, as a precautionary measure, the British government ordered cattle infected with BSE to be slaughtered. Bans were imposed on the sale of milk from cows suspected of having Mad Cow disease. The practice of using animal products in cattle feed was also stopped.

This latter measure was taken because scientists began to suspect BSE may have come from sheep infected with a similar disease called scrapie.

In 1989, Britain banned human consumption of cattle offal, including spleen, thymus, tonsils, intestines, brain and spinal cord. This decision was spurred by growing consumer concern over CJD possibly coming from cattle.

The following year, Britain was still trying to quell consumer fears about its beef. A House of Commons inquiry gave British beef a clean bill of health but the damage had already been done. Twenty-three non-European-Union countries, including Canada banned imports of British beef.

Though the British government maintained humans could not contract CJD from eating beef infected with BSE, curious cases of the disease were cropping up.

The disease usually affects elderly people, and there is a one-Independenta-million chance of contracting the condition. But in 1993, a dairy farmer whose herd fell prey to Mad Cow disease, died of CJD. Four slaughterhouse workers had also recently died. In May, 1995, the first teen known to be infected with CJD was discovered.

Some doctors said the increase was due to better detection methods, but others weren't so sure. Consumers continued to cut beef from their diets, and hundreds of school cafeterias pulled beef from their menus.

Then, in March of 1996, a panel of scientists delivered a blow for the British government. After examining 10 recent cases of CJD, they said there appeared to be a link between Mad Cow and human CJD. They said the disease was a new variant of CJD, vCJD.

After the announcement, the banning of British beef began in earnest. First it was France and Belgium. Then the McDonald's restaurant chain stopped serving British beef in its 660 outlets across the U.K. Within a week, all of the EU was onboard with a ban on British beef that would remain in place for some 2 1/2 years.

At this point Britain resorted to culling its herd to try to curb the outbreak. Since 1986, 160,000 cases of BSE-infected cattle had been reported.

By late 1998, the situation in Britain seemed to be under control. The EU decided Britain had finally put sufficient measures in place to halt the spread of Mad Cow disease, and the EU ban on British beef was lifted.

As of January, 1999, at least 40 people had died of vCJD, and some 175,000 cattle had also perished or been slaughtered as a safety measure. Britain's billion dollar beef industry was staggering back to its feet. The crisis seemed to be coming to a close.

Then in November of 2000, France discovered its first homegrown case of BSE. Until then, all of its cases could be traced back to England. Next it was Germany declaring that two cows born and raised on German soil were infected with BSE.

Will Canada be next?


16 May 01 - CJD - Scientists fear second wave of human BSE

By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent

Telegraph--Wednesday 16 May 2001


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences A SECOND wave of the human form of Mad Cow disease could devastate Britain within a few years, CJD scientists fear.

Government researchers have found evidence that the incubation period for variant CJD varies greatly depending on a person's genetic make-up.

According to Prof John Collinge, the CJD expert behind the study, the 99 known British victims may have been genetically disposed to have relatively short incubation periods.

If the findings are confirmed, it could mean that huge numbers of people who ate infected meat in the late 1980s are infected with the fatal disease, but have yet to develop it. Some scientists have suggested that up to 250,000 people could become victims.

Kuru, the deadly disease spread by eating human brains and closely linked to BSE and vCJD, has an average incubation time of 12 years. But some victims incubate Kuru for 30 years.

All the patients to date with vCJD have a variation in their genetic make up which makes them "methionine homozygous" (M-M). This variation is found in around 40 per cent of people. Two other genotypes, V-V and M-V, are also known.

Models predicting the disease have assumed that only M-M people are at risk and that others have a genetic immunity. But according to Prof Collinge, of Imperial College, London, that may be "overly optimistic".

In a paper in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, his team reports the location of three new genes in mice that influence the incubation period of prion diseases such as vCJD and BSE.

Because mice and people share relatively similar genetic make-ups, the team said it was "almost certain" that corresponding genes will be found in people. Prof Collinge said: "We cannot rule out an epidemic that evolves over decades."


16 May 01 - CJD - Waves of Mad Cow cases could yet hit humans

Reuters

YAHOO--Wednesday 16 May 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Recurring waves of Mad Cow disease could hit the human population over coming decades, according to a leading British researcher.

"We have found a number of genes in mice that have a major effect on the incubation period," scientist John Collinge at the Medical Research Council's Prion Research Unit told Reuters on Tuesday.

"It is therefore a statement of the obvious that the people who have got the human variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) so far come from the gene group with the shortest incubation period," he added.

Prions cause fatal brain diseases such as vCJD in humans and scrapie in sheep.

Collinge said that as time passed the different groups in the population would reach the end of their genetically-linked incubation period and there would suddenly be a new outbreak of the disease.

"We may well be looking at an epidemic that evolves over decades in a series of waves," he said.

Collinge said that while the different genes had so far only been isolated in mice, it was fair to suggest that they would find echoes in humans.

This in turn meant that the rather simple model used so far to try to calculate the course of the disease had to be radically re-worked to take account of the new information.

To date in Britain, there have been 99 confirmed cases of the human variant of the braIndependentrotting killer disease that manifests itself in cattle as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

The spread of the disease across the species barrier to humans has been attributed to eating meat from infected cattle.

Epidemiological modellers have put a theoretical upper limit on the maximum number of cases at 130,000, but Collinge said the discoveries by his unit could hugely increase that number.


16 May 01 - CJD - Scientists increase their forecasts of CJD epidemic

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Independent--Wednesday 16 May 2001


Scientists are increasing their estimates for a future epidemic of vCJD, the human brain disorder linked with BSE, because of the latest study into the genetics of the disease.

Epidemiologists last year ruled out a large-scale epidemic of "human BSE". They then thought that just 40 per cent of the population could be at risk of developing the variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). However, a new study has shown that it may be wrong to believe that 60 per cent of the population are "genetically immune" from the disease. It is safer to assume that they can be infected but just stay well for longer.

A team led by Professor John Collinge of the Medical Research Council's prion unit at Imperial College, London, has found that at least three previously unknown genes can influence the length of the incubation period between infection and the appearance of symptoms.

The unit's findings suggest that many more people may be infected with the agent for BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), although it is still too early to predict with confidence how many may eventually succumb.

Professor Collinge said that his studies so far only of laboratory mice suggest that current computer models of the possible scale of a human epidemic are over-optimistic.

The experts' view last August was that there might be a maximum of only 136,000 cases. Professor Collinge said that all 99 victims of vCJD to date had a particular genetic makeup, shared by four out of ten people. His latest studies of mice suggest that other genes may be implicated in determining human susceptibility to vCJD.

The 99 victims may have suffered from an unlucky combination of genes, rather than from exposure to a critical amount of BSE infection.


16 May 01 - CJD - UK scientists say vCJD epidemic is just tip of the iceberg

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 16 May 2001


LONDON (AFX) - Scientists are warning that the predicted size of the variant CJD epidemic (vCJD) may have been underestimated, the BBC reported.

A research team, led by professor John Collinge, director of the Medical Research Council Prion Unit in London suggests, following experiments with mice, that only people with the shortest incubation periods for the disease have so far shown symptoms of the human form of BSE.

"We cannot rule out an epidemic that evolves over decades," professor Collinge said.

Prions, Collinge's area of study, are infectious agents that cause fatal brain diseases such as vCJD in humans and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie in animals.

Following infection, there is a very long incubation period before symptoms of the disease occur.

If confirmed, the new findings will mean that current cases are just the tip of the iceberg and that a "second wave" of cases will emerge, Collinge said.

Current projections of the scale of the epidemic have been based on the theory that some people are unlikely to contract CJD from infected meat because of their genetic make-up, but this idea is contradicted by this latest research, as reported in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Those patients we have seen so far with vCJD may be those genetically disposed to have the shortest incubation periods," said Collinge, as quoted by the BBC.

All patients identified so far have a particular variation in their genetic make-up (MM), shared by about 40% of white Britons - two other subtypes (VV and MV) are seen.

The current estimates assume that only people with the MM genetic make-up will contract the disease if they come into contact with the infective agent, for example by eating contaminated meat.

However, Professor Collinge has warned that such predictions may be "overly optimistic".

The new work confirms that in mice at least, a number of genes are involved in susceptibility to prion diseases.

As mouse and human genomes are so similar, corresponding genes are almost certain to be found in humans, he said.


16 May 01 - CJD - BSE row scientist in poll challenge to Nick Brown

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 16 May 2001


A critic of the policies on foot-and-mouth disease and Mad Cow disease is to stand in the General Election against Agriculture Minister Nick Brown.

Microbiologist Dr Harash Narang, 58, supported vaccination of animals rather than culling them during the current crisis.

He is also critical of the Conservative Government's policy on BSE.

He claims he was effectively sacked from his position as a Government scientist for linking Mad Cow disease with CJD in humans.

Dr Narang, of Jesmond, Newcastle, announced he will stand as an Independent against Mr Brown, the Labour member for Newcastle East.

He will be backed by local businessman Ken Bell, who has privately funded Dr Narang's research since he was made redundant from the Public Health Laboratory Service in Newcastle in 1994.

He said he chose to stand against the minister because he felt the public did not have confidence in any of the established parties and the way they responded to the foot-and-mouth crisis.

He told PA News: "If we have the philosophy that nobody is responsible for foot-and-mouth disease, then it is a shambles.

"If you are a bus driver and there is an accident, or if you are a surgeon and something goes wrong they take you to the cleaners. To me, it is not just Nick Brown I am challenging, it is a referendum against all the established parties."


16 May 01 - CJD - Worst of BSE crisis may still be to come

Staff Reporter

ITN--Wednesday 16 May 2001


"Those patients we have seen so far with vCJD may be those genetically disposed to have the shortest incubation periods" - Professor John Collinge

Medical experts have revealed that the worst of the Mad Cow disease crisis may still be to come.

The prospect of the human form of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease becoming an epidemic evolving over decades cannot be ruled out.

A team of scientists based at Imperial College, London, have uncovered data which has given experts a greater understanding of the risks.

The research has revealed that those patients so far seen with vCJD may be genetically disposed to have the shortest incubation periods.

Scientists believe that there may be differing degrees of vulnerability to vCJD.

The first cases were detected in March 1996 and heath experts concluded that the most likely origin of the disease was due to eating BSE infected beef.

Professor John Collinge, director of the Medical Research Council Prion Unit, led the research.

Professor Collinge said: "Three genetic types referred to as MM, VV and MV are seen in the population.

"All those who have so far developed vCJD were from the MM genotype but we expected to find other genes that would influence susceptibility."

He added: "It is likely that within the MM group there are differing degrees of susceptibility to disease and that the human counterparts of the genes we are now locating in mice will be crucial to this.

"Those patients we have seen so far with vCJD may be those genetically disposed to have the shortest incubation periods."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "This research would appear to be a useful contribution in helping us to understand the susceptibility in humans to variant CJD.

"We keep this issue under constant review and this research will be, no doubt, a valuable development in our knowledge."


16 May 01 - CJD - Scientists warn vCJD epidemic not over



CBC--Wednesday 16 May 2001


WebPosted Tue May 15 19:42:19 2001 LONDON - The human form of Mad Cow disease, variant CJD, has been found in 99 people so far. And a group of researchers is warning they may be just the tip of the iceberg.

In work published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say the predicted size of the vCJD epidemic may have been underestimated.

Based on work with mice, the study suggests only people with the shortest incubation periods for the disease are showing symptoms. If the findings are confirmed, it would mean a second wave of cases will emerge.

Genetic clues

Researchers don't know how many people have been exposed to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE, and what proportion of these will develop the human form of the disease. But certain genetic factors are thought to be involved in determining an individual's risk of developing the condition.

All vCJD patients identified so far have a particular variation in their genetic make-up (MM), shared by about 40 per cent of white Britons. Two other subtypes (VV and MV) are also seen.

The current estimates assume only people with the MM genetic make-up will contract the disease if they come into contact with the infective agent, for example by eating contaminated meat.

But Dr. John Collinge, director of the Medical Research Council Prion Unit in London, says those estimates may be overly optimistic.

He says an epidemic that evolves over decades can't be ruled out. The new study confirms in mice at least, a number of genes are involved in susceptibility to diseases like vCJD, Mad Cow and scrapie.

And although it may take longer for symptoms to appear in some animals because of their genetic make-up, it doesn't mean they won't eventually succumb to the disease.


16 May 01 - CJD - vCJD could become epidemic lasting decades: scientists

Staff Reporter

News Asia--Wednesday 16 May 2001


The human form of Mad Cow disease could become an epidemic lasting decades.

British scientists warn the predicted size of the dreaded variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease, or vCJD may have been under-estimated.

This could cause more terror in the UK just when the it is starting to recover from the onslaught of Mad Cow and foot and mouth diseases that have crippled agriculture.

This has raised fears that cases confirmed in the UK so far could be just the first wave of a larger epidemic.

British news reports quoting Professor John Collinge, who led the research on mice, suggests that only people with the shortest incubation periods for the disease are showing symptoms of the human form of BSE, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

It appears that the long-term scale of the disease may only become apparent when those with longer incubation become ill.

Researchers say the study affirms that Britain should not be complacent about the potential risks to public health posed by BSE, or Mad Cow disease.

If confirmed, the findings would mean that the current cases are just the tip of the iceberg, and that a "second wave" of cases will emerge.

The first cases of v-CJD were detected in Britain in 1996, with health experts concluding that the most likely cause of the condition was eating beef infected with BSE.


15 May 01 - CJD - CJD epidemic could last decades: scientists

Ananova

PA News--Tuesday 15 May 2001


The prospect of the human form of Mad Cow disease becoming an epidemic evolving over decades cannot be ruled out, according to a medical expert.

A team of scientists based at Imperial College, London, has uncovered data which has given experts a greater understanding of the potential risks posed by variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease.

The research has revealed that those patients so far seen with vCJD - which attacks the brain causing death - may be genetically disposed to have the shortest "incubation" periods.

Scientists believe that there may be differing degrees of vulnerability to prion diseases like vCJD in those who have the genetic type susceptible to the killer condition.

The first cases of vCJD were detected in March, 1996, and heath experts concluded that the most likely origin of the disease was due to eating BSE-infected cattle.

Professor John Collinge, director of the Medical Research Council Prion Unit, led the research which confirms that a number of genes are involved in susceptibility to prion disease in mice.

Mouse and human genomes are similar, so researchers believe that it is almost certain they will find corresponding genes in humans which have the same role to play.

Professor Collinge said: "Three genetic types referred to as MM, VV and MV are seen in the population.

"All those who have so far developed vCJD were from the MM genotype but we expected to find other genes that would influence susceptibility."

He added: "Prion diseases develop over a quite different time-scale and we cannot rule out an epidemic that evolves over decades. "


14 May 01 - CJD - CJD scientists warn of 'second wave'

By BBC News Online's Helen Briggs

BBC--Monday 14 May 2001


This study reminds us that we cannot be complacent about the potential risks to public health posed by BSE - John Collinge, MRC Prion unit, London

Scientists are warning that the predicted size of the variant CJD epidemic may have been underestimated .

Research in mice suggests that only people with the shortest incubation periods for the disease are showing symptoms of the human form of BSE.

If confirmed, the findings would mean that the current cases are just the tip of the iceberg and that a "second wave" of cases will emerge.

Projections of the scale of the epidemic are based on the theory that some people are unlikely to contract CJD from infected meat because of their genetic make-up.

But this idea is contradicted by research reported in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Those patients we have seen so far with vCJD may be those genetically disposed to have the shortest incubation periods," says John Collinge, director of the Medical Research Council Prion Unit in London.

Genetic risk

Prions are infectious agents that cause fatal brain diseases such as vCJD in humans and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie in animals.

Following infection, there is a very long incubation period before symptoms of the disease occur.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Health, 99 cases of vCJD have been recorded to date.

But it remains unclear how many other people have been exposed to BSE and what proportion of these will eventually develop the human form of the disease.

One clue is our genes. As with conditions like cancer and heart disease, genetic factors are thought to be involved in determining an individual's risk of developing CJD, after exposure to the infective agent.

All patients identified so far have a particular variation in their genetic make-up (MM), shared by about 40% of white Britons. Two other subtypes (VV and MV) are seen.

The current estimates assume that only people with the MM genetic make-up will contract the disease if they come into contact with the infective agent, for example by eating contaminated meat.

'Complacent'

However, Professor Collinge, who led the team that carried out the new research, warns that such predictions may be "overly optimistic".

"This study reminds us that we cannot be complacent about the potential risks to public health posed by BSE," says Professor Collinge.

"We cannot rule out an epidemic that evolves over decades."

The new work confirms that in mice at least, a number of genes are involved in susceptibility to prion diseases.

And although it may take longer for symptoms to appear in some animals because of their genetic make-up, that does not mean they will not eventually succumb to the disease.

As the mouse and human genomes are so similar, corresponding genes are almost certain to be found in humans.


13 May 01 - CJD - CJD clusters suspected in six new areas of Britain

Tom Robbins and Roger Dodgson

st---Sunday 13 May 2001


Scientists are investigating six new potential clusters of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) victims scattered throughout Britain. At least two people have died from the human form of "Mad Cow" disease in each of the six areas, and experts are examining links between the cases by studying local butchery practices, medical records and eating habits.

So far only one group of cases has been confirmed in the village of Queniborough, Leicestershire , where five young people died.

Yesterday it emerged that a third victim of the disease had died in the town of Eastleigh, Hampshire , one of the potential cluster areas. Steve Babey, 25, was diagnosed with vCJD five months ago.

A preliminary investigation was started earlier this year into the deaths of two other people in the Eastleigh area. It found no obvious links between the cases, but further investigations are to take place during the coming months.

Scientists from the government-funded CJD Surveillance Unit, based in Edinburgh, are working in conjunction with local health authorities in an effort to isolate common factors between cases.

The Department of Health refused to identify the areas being examined, but last week local health authorities covering Stockton-on-Tees , Chester-le-Street , in Durham, and Glasgow , in addition to Eastleigh, confirmed that they were assisting in investigations. The unit is believed to be preparing to launch studies in two other unnamed areas. Studies have already been conducted in Stockport and in Armthorpe , South Yorkshire, but have failed to find any links between cases.

Victims' families are being interviewed and sent questionnaires that examine where they bought meat, where children went to school and where they had hospital or dental treatment to ascertain if there was exposure to contaminated blood.

Research by the CJD Surveillance Unit and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the incidence of vCJD was twice as high in the north of Britain as in the south. Dr Simon Cousens, who led the study, confirmed that potential new clusters were being investigated.

"There are other clusters, but they have to be taken into context," he said. "Two cases in a rural area, for example, might be more surprising than 10 in London. The number of cases alone is not indicative."

However, experts warn that trying to find links between cases was extremely difficult. In Armthorpe no direct links were found, even though the two victims of the disease were friends who lived in the same street. Sarah Roberts, 28, who died last September was friends with Matthew Parker, 19, who died in 1997. Last week Doncaster Health Authority said investigations had been hampered because many small abattoirs from the 1980s had closed.

In Stockport Paul Dickens, 28, and Stephen Lunt, 34, who lived only two streets apart, both died of the disease but again no link has been found.

There have been 99 cases in total of "definite and probable" vCJD in Britain.


13 May 01 - CJD - Australian's Death May Be Linked To Human Form Of Mad Cow

Associated Press

YAHOO--Sunday 13 May 2001


SYDNEY (AP)--Health authorities are investigating the death of a 74-year-old Australian man who is believed to have shown symptoms of the brain wasting illness linked to Mad Cow disease, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The man, who wasn't identified, died March 30 after months of unusual behavior that doctors told his family may have been symptoms of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said.

The illness has killed about 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain, but no Australian has tested positive for vCJD.

People are believed to contract the illness by eating meat products from cattle with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease. The illness usually manifests itself in humans in the form of depression.

The Telegraph said the man had traveled to Britain and France in 1993 and had eaten meat products during his six-week vacation.

The man's widow, who didn't wish to be identified, said he had acted "very strangely" in the months before his death.

"I thought he was going mad, to be honest," the woman was quoted as saying.

The Telegraph said doctors are conducting tests on the man's brain tissue, with a diagnosis expected within a week.


13 May 01 - CJD - 'Mad Cow' eyed in Aussie's death

Associated Press

Manila Times--Sunday 13 May 2001


SYDNEY, Australia-Health authorities are investigating the death of a 74-year-old Australian man who is believed to have shown symptoms of the brain wasting illness linked to Mad Cow disease, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The man, who was not identified, died on March 30 after months of unusual behavior that doctors told his family may have been symptoms of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said.

The illness has killed about 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain, but no Australian has tested positive for vCJD.

People are believed to contract the illness by eating meat products from cattle with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease. The illness usually manifests itself in humans in the form of depression.

The Telegraph said the man had traveled to Britain and France in 1993 and had eaten meat products during his six-week vacation.

The man's widow, who did not wish to be identified, said he had acted "very strangely" in the months before his death.

"I thought he was going mad, to be honest," the woman was quoted as saying.

The Telegraph said doctors are conducting tests on the man's brain tissue, with a diagnosis expected within a week.


13 May 01 - CJD - FDA rebukes top processor of human tissue

By Ronald Campbell

Orange County Register---Sunday 13 May 2001


RTI is urged, but not ordered, to halt its practice of mixing parts from cadavers during processing.

Federal regulators have urged the nation's largest human-tissue processor to stop mixing parts from cadavers because it may be unsafe.

In a harshly worded letter, the Food and Drug Administration told Alachua, Fla.- based Regeneration Technologies Inc. that processing tissue from several cadavers in the same machinery "may expose individuals to unwarranted risks." But the FDA stopped short of ordering RTI to scrap its "BioCleanse" technology, something the agency could have done if it believed the method threatened public health.

"That's a decision that's with them (RTI)," said the FDA's Steven A. Masiello, who co-signed the May 3 letter to RTI.

RTI Chief Executive James Grooms said in a written statement that the company is "completely confident" in BioCleanse. Spokeswoman Nancy Walsh said Friday that the company will continue to use the technology pending a meeting with FDA officials next week.

While the tissue from different donors doesn't physically touch, it is processed by the same machinery at RTI, raising the potential for cross- contamination, according to critics. For scientific purposes, the tissue is considered mixed, or pooled.

RTI's stock fell 15 percent Thursday after the company reported the FDA warning, and an additional 2.5 percent Friday, closing at $11.

An Orange County Register investigation last July disclosed the potential safety issues surrounding the pooling of human tissue. The FDA inspected RTI three weeks later.

"The information that was collected during the inspection was fairly extensive," Masiello said, explaining the 10-month gap between the inspection and the FDA letter.

RTI buys donated cadaver tissue from tissue banks in Orange County and nationwide, turning it into products for orthopedic, urological and cardiovascular surgery. In the three years since its spinoff from the nonprofit University of Florida Tissue Bank, RTI has nearly quadrupled its sales to $120.9 million and eclipsed the longtime industry leader, New Jersey-based Osteotech.

BioCleanse has been a key to RTI's rapid growth. When it went public last August, RTI boasted that BioCleanse could sterilize tissue from as many as 100 cadavers at a time, reducing costs while increasing the acceptable age range of donors and nearly eliminating the risk of contamination. But the FDA said RTI has failed to prove that BioCleanse really does eliminate diseases.

The FDA is particularly worried that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human version of mad-cow disease, could spread through BioCleanse from a single cadaver to dozens of patients.

"We believe it prudent to discontinue immediately its use for processing of tissue," the FDA said.

No other major tissue processor mixes parts from donors.

The American Association of Tissue Banks has barred its members from pooling tissue from several donors for more than a decade. It imposed the ban after Japanese researchers tied pooled tissue to 40 deaths from Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease.

RTI is not a member of the trade group.

A proposed FDA rule, issued Jan. 8, would bar pooling tissue from several donors.

AATB opposes pooling not only because of the potential for contamination but also because it would be hard to track down donors and recipients if someone contracted a disease from an implant.

"You may have 300 pieces of tissue, and then you'll have to find 300 different people," said AATB Executive Director Jeanne Mowe.

"If the donors are mixed together, it makes it that much more difficult to find those people."

Doug Wilson of Virginia- based LifeNet, one of the nation's largest nonprofit tissue banks, said RTI's procedures illustrate the influence of money on the industry.

"It is all in their literature," Wilson said.

"This is one of their stated procedures to save money."

Register staff writers William Heisel and Mark Katches contributed to this report.


12 May 01 - CJD - UK food agency says banned spinal cord found in imported Danish beef

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 12 May 2001


LONDON (AFX) - The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said spinal cord has been found in beef imported from Denmark into the UK.

This is the first time that imported Danish beef has violated the EU-wide BSE controls in the UK, the FSA said.

Bovine spinal cord is classified as specified risk material (SRM) and is among those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE.

Under European law, SRM must be removed immediately after slaughter, stained, and disposed of safely.

The discovery was made earlier this week at a receiving company in Cornwall.

The rest of the consignment has been voluntarily surrendered by the Danish exporter because there was no accompanying paperwork from the abattoir to show the meat was from animals under 30 months of age.

"This violation has been raised with the Danish Chief Veterinary Officer, and with the European Commission. The Food Standards Agency will press for appropriate action to ensure that there is no recurrence at the abattoir concerned," the FSA said.

The Meat Hygiene Service and all local authorities - who have responsibility for inspecting beef imports - have been given the name of the Danish abattoir to add to the list of European abattoirs from which beef containing spinal cord has been imported into the UK.

There have been only three confirmed cases of BSE in Denmark - two so far this year, and one last year.

It is the 15th time since January that beef imported into the UK from other EU countries has been found to contain spinal cord. The other countries which have failed to abide by the BSE controls are: Germany (seven cases); Holland (two); Spain (two); Republic of Ireland (two) and Italy (one).


12 May 01 - CJD - MAFF 'not conducting BSE infection trials in birds'

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 12 May 2001


Agriculture officials say they are not researching the possible transmission of BSE from cattle to birds.

A German newspaper Die Zeit claimed the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was conducting research into a report that ostriches in zoos were showing symptoms similar to BSE after being fed with animal-meal.

A MAFF spokesman told Ananova it had conducted trials on possible transmission from cattle to poultry in the past but they had showed the birds were not susceptible.

Vets in a college in Hanover examined the brains of affected ostriches and reported they found the same kind of holes in the ostrich brains as were found in BSE-infected cattle.

Heinz-Adolf Schoon, head of the examining team at the time and now animal pathologist at Leipzig University, said: "You could not tell the difference [between the ostrich brain damage and that in BSE cows]."

Mr Schoon said he could not secure funding to continue his research as it was not deemed necessary.

Other experts have dismissed the possibilities of any transmission of BSE to birds.

Adriano Agguzzi, neuro-pathologist at Zurich University in Switzerland, said ostriches were unlikely to be affected with BSE.

He said the prion proteins (linked to BSE) found in birds were too different from those in cattle to be related and added that a number of diseases found in animals could be confused with BSE.

No BSE cases have been reported from commercial ostrich farms, where animals are slaughtered at a relatively young age for their meat.


12 May 01 - CJD - Son not told of CJD

By Elizabeth Judge

Times--Saturday 12 May 2001


The mother of a variant CJD victim hid the truth from her son in an attempt to bolster his hopes of recovery.

Jean Babey told her son, Steve, 25, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, that he had been diagnosed with a brain virus that he would recover from. He died earlier this week.

The town is among eight communities that are being investigated as potential hotspots for the disease, which could suffer the same fate as Queniborough, the Leicestershire village where five young people died from the illness. It is believed there have already been two linked cases in Eastleigh.

Mrs Babey, 58, a support worker, said yesterday that she had been determined to keep her son's spirits up after he was diagnosed with the illness, the human form of "Mad Cow" disease, five months ago.

"We decided to tell him he had been diagnosed with a brain virus which would work its way through," she said. "We made Steve feel as if they were searching for an answer and told him things would get worse before they got better.

"The instinct to survive is strong in all of us and he really did fight very hard. It is an awful illness - hellish."

Experts are looking at any possible links between victims and GP practices.


12 May 01 - CJD - Researcher calls for autoclaving in BSE prevention

Sally Schuff

Feedstuffs---Saturday 12 May 2001


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The infective agents that cause Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) can be effectively inactivated by sterlizing meat and bone meal, a prominent researcher from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington told reporters last week.

During a panel presentation, Dr. Paul Brown, the senior research scientist at the NIH laboratory of central nervous system diseases, said that by autoclaving prions, the infective agents that cause BSE, under pressure at a temperature of 134 degrees F, they can effectively be deactivated.

The U.S. should have a regulation insisting that meat and bone meal be autoclaved, said Brown. Brown has written a number of peer-reviewed papers for scientific journals on BSE research and speaks frequently on BSE, offering scientific evidence that the disease is unlikely in the U.S. because of long-standing efforts by the government and industry to prevent exposure and possible amplification.

Brown said the autoclaving technique he recommends is the same one hospitals use to sterilize surgical instruments used in brain surgeries to prevent the spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases.

Tom Cook, vice president of the National Renderers Assn., pointed out that the U.S. rendering industry currently uses high temperatures. Due to the cost, he said, in the absence of any cases of BSE in the U.S., the industry was unlikely to support an autoclaving regulation.

The discussion took place during a BSE panel session at the annual meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists.


12 May 01 - CJD - UK error may have fuelled fears of BSE risk in India

Reuters

Indian Express--Saturday 12 May 2001


Rome, May 9: Britan has owned up to a blunder in which exports of meat-and-bone meal were wrongly registered as going to India rather than Indonesia - possibly exaggerating India's risk of harbouring Mad Cow disease.

Britain erroneously reported that it had exported meat-and-bone meal (MBM) to India between 1980 and 2000, documents from UK and India showed. A letter from the British Agriculture Ministry to the International Food Industry Federation in Cheltenham, England, dated December 4, 2000, referred to the error.

''Some figures relating to Indonesia had mistakenly been entered under India. I can now confirm there have been no exports to India from 1980 to date of products coming under the H.M. Customs and Excise heading of 'Flours, meals and pellets of meat or meat offals,''' it said. ''Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience that this error may have caused.''

According to a letter from India's Commerce Ministry to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) dated April 16, 2001, Britain's Agriculture Ministry had quoted UK Customs and Excise as saying UK exports of MBM to Indonesia had ''mistakenly'' been entered in data on exports to India.

A British Customs and Excise official, Maureen Barrell, confirmed the error had occurred.(Reuters)


12 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease concern could change chicken feed

Marian Burros

Wisconsin State Journal---Saturday 12 May 2001


Think about poultry and the image might be of fuzzy yellow chicks pecking away at seeds.

But in reality, many chickens raised in the United States eat meat byproducts, including rendered cattle matter, as a small part of their diet.

Although scientists say this doesn't pose a safety problem [Other notable scientists, like prion Nobel laureate Daniel Gajdusek, disagree--BSE coordinator], pressure is mounting in the poultry industry to change feeding practices amid concern about possible bad publicity associated with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease.

"I'm sure people are all looking at whether they should continue this practice or not," said David Harvey, a poultry expert at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A change could mean stronger demand for corn and soybean meal, which form the largest part of chicken diets.

The United States imposed a ban on feeding beef byproducts to cattle and other cud-chewing animals in 1997, following Europe's BSE outbreak. There has never been a case of BSE in the United States, and poultry -- which aren't cud-chewing animals -- aren't thought to be susceptible [Wrong--chickens have been experimentally proven susceptible--BSE coordinator].

"No BSE or BSE-related disease has ever been found in birds [Not true; there were ostrich cases in British (and now maybe German) zoos--BSE coordinator]," said Rae Jones, a spokeswoman for the FDA, which regulates animal feed. "We don't have any reason to believe that adding mammalian protein to poultry feed is unsafe. However, FDA is reviewing all aspects of this ruminant feed regulation to determine if any changes should be made. Everything is on the table."

Some companies, such as Empire Kosher Poultry, aren't waiting for FDA reviews and plan to keep their chickens on a vegetarian diet.

The industry wants as little publicity as possible about this practice in the wake of the BSE crisis, observers said.

Meat byproducts constitute up to 5 percent of the poultry diet in the United States, said Christopher Bailey, a professor of poultry science and nutrition at Texas A&M University.

Most of the meat byproduct in poultry feed consists of poultry, said Dr. Charles Beard, vice president of research and technical programs for the United States Poultry & Egg Association, a trade group based in Georgia. But a smaller percentage is composed of byproduct from hogs and cattle.

Beard, who said the industry might consider a change if BSE ever appeared in the United States, thinks current feed practices are safe.

"I don't even want poultry and chicken mentioned in the same story with Mad Cow disease," Beard said.


12 May 01 - CJD - The whole truth about mad Mad Cow disease

By John S. Long

Plain Dealer---Saturday 12 May 2001


If there were a Mad Cow outbreak, would it take us weeks or months to adequately respond?

No. If Mad Cow were discovered here, the infected cattle would be destroyed, and others in the herd would be quarantined. The government would begin a trace of the feed eaten by the infected cattle and quarantine other cattle that received the feed. The government probably would dramatically increase the slaughter and testing of cattle, to search for additional Mad Cow cases and to quell fears. U.S. beef exports would be halted.

Are there things I shouldn't eat?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends not eating beef if you are traveling to a country with Mad Cow disease. If you must eat beef, the USDA suggests eating muscle meat, like steaks or roasts.

In countries where there is Mad Cow disease, do not eat hamburgers, meat loaf or ground meat dishes, because the spinal column frequently is scraped in making ground beef. Also, organ meats may be used in ground beef. It is recommended that glands and organs, from brains to sweetbreads and ox tail, be avoided.

The United States imports dairy products from European cattle because scientists have not found the disease in milk or milk products from infected cattle.

Meats from slaughtered cattle, pigs and sheep are not being imported from Europe.

What about chronic wasting disease?

Chronic wasting disease, a Mad Cowlike disease, has been found in deer and elk from Colorado, Wyoming and Western Canada. It would be prudent to avoid eating venison or elk that comes from those areas, as several hunters who regularly ate such meat died from the disease.


12 May 01 - CJD - Calls to scrap Maff in rural shake-up

By Patrick Sawer

YAHOO--Saturday 12 May 2001


The Government was under increasing pressure today to scrap the Ministry of Agriculture after a minister supported calls for a shake-up, following what some regard as its disastrous handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Fisheries and Countryside Minister Elliot Morley said the crisis provided a "catalyst" for change and he favoured a new Department for Rural Affairs.

He said that in future farmers would have to pay more attention to the needs of the leisure and tourist industries. "I have long thought there was an argument for Maff becoming more of a Ministry of Rural Affairs and indeed that was expressed by [Agriculture Minister] Nick Brown publicly."

Mr Morley's comments were immediately welcomed by critics of Maff.

Charles Secrett, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "Maff has rightly been marked for culling. It made a spectacular mess of the BSE crisis, and ignored warnings about the danger of intensive farming, animal movement and foot-and-mouth."

Mr Brown attempted to deflect criticism as he announced an extra 15million aid to pay for recovery seminars for farmers who have had livestock culled.

The row over the future of Maff came as tourism bosses and rural business owners arrived in London to express anger at perceived government inaction over help for all industries affected by the epidemic.

A 1,000-strong delegation from Devon, Cumbria and Powys will march on Downing Street today to press their case for more aid.

They will present a giant invoice to Chancellor Gordon Brown for 12 billion - the amount they claim has been lost by hotels, pubs, shops and other tourist-related businesses.

The protest is by the newly formed National Rural Business Network which claims that 300,000 jobs in the countryside are at risk.

However, a TUC report today argues that the impact of foot-and-mouth on the UK's economy is likely to be "small and temporary" compared with the deep-seated problems of industry. It argues for a new cut in interest rates because of the problems manufacturing firms face rather than the effects on rural areas and the tourism.

Foot-and-mouth could reduce the UK's growth rate by around 0.2 per cent if the knock-on impacts on tourism are included, says the report.

A controversial report by English Nature has called for some parts of the English uplands to revert to woodland and near-wilderness.

The Government's advisory body has called for a dramatic cut in the number of sheep allowed to graze the uplands, which it fears were becoming heavily overstocked before the crisis. It says 67 per cent of limestone grassland and 72 per cent of protected upland heathland in sites of special scientific interest are in poor condition.

The Meat and Livestock Commission has announced attempts to resume business as normal with the first advertising campaign to promote red meat since the outbreak began. The 900,000 campaign for British pork starts on Monday.

More areas of the countryside are opening to the public, including three more of Snowdonia's highest peaks


12 May 01 - CJD - More BSE cases but minister insists beef is safe

Jerome Reilly

Sunday Independent--Saturday 12 May 2001


Three new cases of BSE were confirmed last week as further evidence emerged of widespread fraud by Irish farmers. Two of the new cases of Mad Cow disease were discovered in Cork, while the third was in Clare. All were found in older animals aged between six and nine years.

Since the start of 2001, there have been 49 cases of BSE in Ireland. However, because of the favourable trend in the age profile of animals with the disease, Irish beef had never been as safe as it was now, Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh insisted last week.

No animals born after 1996 have been detected with BSE, he added. Meanwhile, the Government has ordered an urgent re-evaluation of ewe premium applications around the country following the uncovering of a major fraud by sheep farmers in the Cooley peninsula.

The fraud involved extra payments of up to 130,000 under the EU ewe premium scheme for ewes which did not exist.

The scam has been exposed as a result of the urgent cull of sheep to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth in the area last month. New figures show that Cooley farmers claimed for 6,625 ewes which could not be located when the cull was carried out.

The Department found irregularities in relation to claims on 100 of the 275 farms where animals were culled. Farmers in the area had put in claims for 37,165 ewe payments for this year at 19 a head. However, when the mandatory cull was carried out, only 30,540 eligible animals could be accounted for. The Department investigators identified a hard core of 51 farmers who were responsible for nearly 90pc of the false claims.


12 May 01 - CJD - Bayer says its plasma purification can remove CJD prions

Staff Reporter

AFX---Saturday 12 May 2001


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC (AFX) - Bayer Corp, a U.S. unit of Bayer AG, said purification processes used in the manufacture of human plasma-derived pharmaceutical products have the capacity to remove pathogenic prion proteins, including those associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

"Bayer seeks to further increase its ability to ensure that all our biological products are safe from any theoretical threat posed by prions," said Michael Fournel, vice president of research and technology, Bayer Biological Products Division.

The company said previous studies have demonstrated certain prion proteins capable of producing transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), a class of fatal, neurodegenerative diseases found in many mammals, can be removed from plasma products.


12 May 01 - CJD - Byrne welcomes EP adoption of BSE legislation

European Commission

Meat and Poultry Online--Saturday 12 May 2001


5/7/2001 Commissioner David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, welcomed the European Parliament's approval of the Commission's proposal for a comprehensive regulation on the prevention, control and eradication of Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE). The EP position, adopted by the Plenary today, frees the way for the final adoption of this draft Regulation by the Council of Ministers, and for its entry into force on July 1 this year.

The proposed legislation will put the measures taken by the Commission over the past ten years to protect human and animal health from the risk of BSE on a solid legal basis. It is the first major veterinary proposal on public health to be adopted under the co-decision procedure between the Commission, European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. It brings all existing BSE measures as adopted over the years through more than sixty Commission Decisions into a single, comprehensive framework, consolidating and updating them in view of scientific advice and international standards.

In addition it introduces a number of new instruments to manage the risk of BSE and other similar diseases such as scrapie in all animal species and relevant products.

"I am extremely satisfied with the parliamentary outcome. This standard setting safety legislation can now rapidly come into force", Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said today. "The European Commission has been forced to work with safeguard measures for far too long.

This regulation puts protective measures against BSE and other such types of diseases on the proper legal and institutional footing. It gives us the instruments we need for comprehensive risk management protecting both animal and human health. And it brings coherence between the rules inside the EU and those applicable to our trade with third countries - both imports and exports".

The draft Regulation takes account of the opinions of the Scientific Committees advising the European Commission and on the international standards set out in the "Code On BSE" of the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The new elements include in particular: the procedure and criteria for classification of countries according to their BSE status based on the criteria of international standards; fully harmonized measures for the eradication of BSE in cattle, sheep and goats, creation of the legal base for eradication of scrapie or any other TSE currently subject to national legislation; rules for export of bovine animals and products derived therefrom similar to those that currently apply internally;*an extension of BSE related controls to bovine animals and products derived therefrom in view of the BSE status; obligations on Member States to set up contingency plans for eradication and control of TSEs.

The proposal for a TSE Regulation was adopted by the Commission in November 1998 and is based on Article 152(4b) of the Treaty on the protection of public health.

The European Parliament adopted its opinion in first reading on 17 May 2000.

A Common Position, incorporating all key amendments of the European Parliament was unanimously agreed by the Council in February 2001. The Regulation, once signed by the European Parliament and Council, will apply as of 1 July 2001. The majority of Commission Decisions on BSE will eventually be incorporated in the Regulation. All implementing decisions, such as for example the classification of countries according to risk level, will be adopted by the Commission after consultation of the Standing Veterinary Committee.

Current legislation on BSE has so far been based on safeguard clauses for emergency measures in directives on animal and public health, for which the Council has delegated its decision making power to the Commission after consultation of the Standing Veterinary Committee. The Commission has taken more than sixty such Decisions since 1989.

A list of Commission Decisions taken on BSE until to date is available on the internet at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/bse/bse15_en.pdf

Source: European Commission


12 May 01 - CJD - Nation isn't doing enough to detect Mad Cow disease, CWRU experts say

By John S. Long

Plain Dealer---Saturday 12 May 2001


Two research scientists at Case Western Reserve University say the U.S. government is not testing enough cattle to detect the presence of Mad Cow disease.

Compounding the problem are weaknesses in the government's ability to regulate and track animals and their feed:

Hundreds of feed mills do not have measures in place to prevent mingling of feed approved for cattle with banned animal feed, which includes the processed meat and bones of dead animals.

The U.S. government has failed to track some banned European feed and cattle that have entered the United States.

"If you don't look, you won't find," said Dr. Pierluigi Gambetti, a neuropathologist at CWRU who called the amount of cattle testing done in the United States insignificant. "Unless we test more, we will never know if we have it here. If they can do it in Europe, one would think they could do it here."

Gambetti heads the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at CWRU, which the federal government set up to monitor a human variation of the disease.

Dr. Man-Sun Sy, an immunologist at CWRU, agreed. "Even if it were here," Sy said, "they will not find it at the current rate of testing." Sy is part of a team of the world's top disease prevention scientists developing a test that will allow cattle to be checked without being killed. The test, which is in preliminary development, would provide more information than current tests.

Mad Cow, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is a disease in which abnormal protein material (scientifically called a prion protein) attacks the central nervous system of an animal and eats away at the brain.

It is always fatal. No cases of Mad Cow disease have been found in the United States, though it now has been confirmed in 31 other countries.

Humans can contract a number of Mad Cow-type diseases. One is transmitted by eating mad-cow-infected beef. It's called Variant-Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. Another, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, is transmitted genetically or develops for reasons that scientists can't determine. A third, chronic wasting disease, comes from eating infected elk and deer. There have been a number of cases of this in the United States and Canada.

Foot-and-mouth disease, which is a communicable viral disease that infects cloven-hoofed animals, is harmless to humans, can be cured and has no relation to Mad Cow.

Although the United States is doing far less testing of cattle than the European Union, U.S. testing exceeds the international standard for a country with no known cases of Mad Cow disease, said Dr. Linda Detwiler, a senior staff veterinarian with the federal government. However, she confirmed that quarantined sheep in Vermont were infected with either Mad Cow or scrapie, a variation of the disease found in sheep. The sheep were euthanized and tested at a federal laboratory in Iowa in March.

"I would never argue that we couldn't do more," Detwiler said. "We can always do more with more money. We doubled the number of tests last year."

Detwiler is an Ohio State University Veterinary School graduate who began her career in Northeast Ohio. She works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and heads the USDA's cattle testing program.

Mad Cow is fairly rare. Only 182,000 cases have been documented worldwide, and all but a few thousand cases have been in the United Kingdom, according to the European Union Ministry of Agriculture in Brussels, Belgium. About 100 cases of Variant-Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease have been discovered, 97 of them in England, and the remainder in France and Ireland.

Because of the disease's long incubation period - five to 20 years - scientists estimate that during that period another 140,000 cases of the human variant will occur in Great Britain.

Testing: Reasons for concern

The major concern, some say, isn't quantity of cases, however. It is potency.

Just one case of this disease can wreak havoc on a nation's economy. If there was a case in the United States, the country's $3.6 billion in annual beef exports would be halted, agricultural economists say.

An outbreak of Mad Cow here probably would mirror Europe's 35 percent decrease in beef consumption, said Brian Roe, an agricultural economist at OSU. As demand declined, so would the need for feed, which would hurt the price of grains and soybeans.

The potential economic impact and the scientific need to track the origins of any outbreaks are why testing is so important.

From 1990 through 2000, the United States tested fewer than 12,000 cattle for Mad Cow disease, and none tested positive for it. In the same period, the EU, including the United Kingdom, tested 270,000 cattle.

Every week since late last year, the EU has tested between 120,000 and 140,000 cattle for the disease.

CWRU's Gambetti acknowledges that the situation in Europe is different than it is here, but he still points to actions there that should prompt the United States to increase its testing for Mad Cow disease.

Last year, officials in Italy and Germany assured the public there was no Mad Cow disease in their countries, according to Gambetti, who added that they spoke before testing enough to know.

The Swiss thought the amount of testing throughout Europe was too low, so they began intensive testing. Their results showed that the number of infected cattle was far larger than previous tests indicated. This led the EU to mandate increased testing five months ago throughout Europe.

"Germany and Italy immediately found cases," said Gambetti. "Italy tested 50,000 to 60,000 and found 12, about one in every 5,000 - and that's not a small number.

"There is no question the U.S. is in a better position than Europe. But after seeing the example of what happened there, I believe they have to test more here. If you ignore it, it won't go away. If anything, it will increase."

The United States has what some say is the world's best defense in preventing Mad Cow. Detwiler is part of that. The United States does not need to test on Europe's scale, she said, because the United States took precautions as early as 1989 to prevent Mad Cow from entering the country.

Testing: Reasons for calm

The steps began with a ban on importation of cloven-hoofed animals from England in 1989 and a quarantine of those that already had entered the country. In 1997, the importation ban was expanded to include cloven-hoofed animals and byproducts from the European Union.

Also in the nation's favor is that animal-byproduct feed, a cause of Mad Cow, is used less in the United States than in Europe. Soybeans, which are abundant here but not in cooler Europe, are used as a source of protein in much of the U.S. feed, rather than the animal byproducts used in Europe.

The USDA has trained hundreds of state and federal field veterinarians throughout the country to spot and diagnose animal diseases, including Mad Cow, that originate in other countries. Private veterinarians have set up a network to contact state veterinary programs and the USDA if they see symptoms that mirror Mad Cow disease.

"Most of our testing is limited to downer cows," admitted Detwiler, referring to cattle that show signs of an impaired central nervous system.


12 May 01 - CJD - German ostriches may have Mad Cow disease

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 12 May 2001


Ostriches are showing BSE-type symptoms in Germany.

The birds have fallen ill after being fed animal bonemeal, which is blamed for causing the disease in cows.

German newspaper Die Zeit reports that the symptoms have been seen in ostriches in various zoos.

The paper says Britain's Ministry of Agriculture has ordered research to be conducted into the possible transmission of BSE from cattle to birds.

Vets at a Hanover college who examined the brains of the affected animals reported that they found the same kind of holes in the ostrich brains as were found in BSE-infected cattle.

Other experts have dismissed any transmission of BSE to birds. No BSE cases have been reported from commercial ostrich farms - because their animals are slaughtered before they are old enough to develop the illness.