Document Directory

04 Jun 01 - CJD - USDA adds more European nations to Mad Cow beef ban
04 Jun 01 - CJD - CJD: Relatively new and definitely deadly
04 Jun 01 - CJD - Fears shake up European diet
04 Jun 01 - CJD - Is the Disease already here?
04 Jun 01 - CJD - Mad Cow altering industry
04 Jun 01 - CJD - Beef may not be only danger
04 Jun 01 - CJD - Ops cancelled in CJD scare
04 Jun 01 - CJD - Plasma Supply Subject
04 Jun 01 - CJD - Fears over human health
03 Jun 01 - CJD - Mad Cow may be incubating in Canada
03 Jun 01 - CJD - DoD Seeks to Mend Looming Rift in Blood Donor Rules
03 Jun 01 - CJD - Worries of cow disease surface
03 Jun 01 - CJD - USDA Wants to Hire 300 More Vets
02 Jun 01 - CJD - Multi-state meeting slated to discuss chronic wasting disease
01 Jun 01 - CJD - Burial of carcasses 'flouts BSE guidelines'
01 Jun 01 - CJD - Maff knew of BSE risk before cattle burials
01 Jun 01 - CJD - MAFF accused over cattle burials
01 Jun 01 - CJD - CJD on increase as human death toll passes 100
01 Jun 01 - CJD - Study links Mad Cow to cattle feed
01 Jun 01 - CJD - Internet shoppers warned about Mad Cow contamination



04 Jun 01 - CJD - USDA adds more European nations to Mad Cow beef ban

Reuters

BayArea.com---Monday 4 June 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday it banned all beef shipments from San Marino, Monaco and Andorra because of concerns over Mad Cow disease and its deadly human variation.

USDA said these countries enforce less restrictive trade regulations than required in the United States, making them vulnerable to an introduction of Mad Cow disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

``This action is necessary in order to prevent the introduction of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy into the United States,'' USDA said in Monday's Federal Register.

San Marino, Monaco and Andorra are not significant beef suppliers for the United States.

Mad Cow disease was believed to have spread from Britain to other countries when the bones, spinal cord and other remains of diseased cattle were ground up for use in livestock feed.

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

The United States currently prohibits beef imports from all European Union member states. San Marino, Monaco and Andorra are not EU members.


04 Jun 01 - CJD - CJD: Relatively new and definitely deadly

Staff Reporter

The Beacon Journal--Monday 4 June 2001


1986

Mad Cow disease first identified, in England.

1989

U.S. Department of Agriculture bans the importation from Great Britain of live ruminants (animals with four stomachs, such as cattle, sheep and goats), feed made with rendered protein supplements from these animals, and beef products.

1990

The USDA begins testing and destroying cows that show signs of neurological problems.

1993

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asks drug and cosmetics manufacturers to avoid using bovine-derived materials from countries where Mad Cow is found.

1996

British scientists link a human variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) to Mad Cow.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control begin investigating all cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that involve people younger than age 55. (CJD usually strikes those older; vCJD usually affects younger people).

The FDA again requests drug and cosmetics manufacturers to avoid using bovine-derived substances.

1997

The FDA prohibits adding rendered protein from ruminant animals to feed for ruminants. To enforce the prohibition, the agency launches an inspection program of renderers, feed mills, dairy farms, protein blenders, feed haulers and distributors.

The USDA expands to most European countries its ban on importing live ruminants, feed made with rendered protein supplements from these animals, and beef products.

The USDA launches a Mad Cow education program for the cattle industry.

1999

The FDA bans blood donations by anyone who has spent a total of at least six months in Great Britain since 1980.

2000

The FDA issues a ``strong recommendation'' to drug and cosmetics manufacturers to stop using bovine-derived substances in their products.

The USDA bans imports of all rendered animal protein, regardless of species, from more than 300 countries.

2001

The USDA bans most edible ruminant products from countries where Mad Cow has been found.

The FDA bans blood donations by anyone who has spent a total of at least 10 years in France or Portugal since 1980.


04 Jun 01 - CJD - Fears shake up European diet

By Jane Snow, Beacon Journal food writer

The Beacon Journal--Monday 4 June 2001


Americans worry about eating abroad. Experts say certain cuts of meat could pose greater dangers

European hamburgers were among the first foods to go. Beef sausages, T-bone steaks and sauteed beef brains are now taboo, too.

Across the Atlantic, Mad Cow disease has cut beef sales by 30 percent, changed restaurant menus and increased the price of seafood and leather.

And now the first effects of the European Mad Cow epidemic are being felt by U.S. consumers. Although no cases of Mad Cow disease have been identified in this country, Americans planning European vacations are worried about eating in restaurants there.

In animals infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the scientific name for Mad Cow, the abnormal proteins that typify the disease have been found in the brain and spinal cord, the nerve tissue near the backbone, the retina and the bone marrow.

Cuts of beef considered most likely to contain contaminated material are brains, hamburger, beef sausages and T-bone steaks. At one time, all bone-in cuts of beef were banned in Great Britain.

Travelers to Europe this summer are not likely to find beef brains on restaurant menus. Bone-in steaks, such as the famous Tuscan T-bone, will not be available, either.

Although other cuts of beef can be found on many European restaurant menus, seafood and vegetarian items are increasing in popularity -- and price.

The chance of contracting Mad Cow disease from eating beef in Europe is extremely small, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. But travelers who are worried about the disease may wish to either avoid beef or order only solid-muscle cuts, such as roasts and boneless steaks.

Fears reach U.S. soil

CDC officials insist U.S. beef is safe to eat

``BSE has not been shown to exist in the United States,'' the CDC advised in a recent bulletin. ``Thus, it is extremely unlikely that BSE would be a foodborne hazard in this country.''

Still, some critics of the government's meat-inspection system say they would hesitate to eat some cuts of beef, such as brains.

T-bones, hamburger and all-beef hot dogs are popular cuts of meat in the United States. But a check of stores and slaughterhouses in the Akron area did not turn up any that sell beef brains.

``Anymore, even before this `Mad Cow,' people got away from it,'' said John Seaman, a longtime Akron butcher who works part time at Mustard Seed Market in Bath Township.

Poached and sauteed brains were popular 15 to 20 years ago, Seaman said. They were a common ingredient in many ethnic cuisines, including, German, Italian and Eastern European. But when packing houses started shipping prebutchered and boxed beef, instead of sides of beef, the supply of brains dried up. Also, all organ meats declined in popularity in the 1990s, as concerns about fat and cholesterol grew.

However, brains are still available in some parts of the country.

``We have customers who come once a week and order the brains,'' said Seth DeWit, manager of Watel's Bistro in Dallas, where sauteed brains with capers and lemon butter is a standard menu item. ``There hasn't been any scare yet. We feel the government regulates the quality of the meat well enough here.''

Not all products risky

There is no evidence that Mad Cow disease can be spread through milk, cheese or beef-based products such as the gelatin that coats pills and candy. But memory-enhancing supplements that contain cow brains or glandular concentrates could be risky.

So could canned and fresh beef products imported from Europe. Consumers are advised to discard any canned or packaged beef product brought from Europe in the last decade.

Beef imports were banned from most European countries in 1997, so these products are unlikely to still be on store shelves. And a check at area stores turned up only a beef stock made by Aromont Products at West Point Market in Akron. The product had been removed from the shelf several months ago but was returned when West Point CEO Rick Vernon discovered the stock was made from U.S. cattle.

Terry White, vice president of sales and marketing for Aromont, said four years ago the French firm began making its stock from bones imported from the United States and Argentina.

U.S. food importers have been hit hard by the European Mad Cow epidemic.

``They've seen a dramatic decrease in their sales,'' said Phillip Byrd, executive director of the American Importers Association in Atlanta.

In addition to the ban on beef, other European meat products were banned in March because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. That disorder is not harmful to people, but it is extremely contagious among animals. If it spread to the United States, it could devastate the agriculture industry.

``Importers are afraid people are going to turn away from (imported) beef and pork altogether,'' Byrd said.

U.S. beef prices are high, but not because of fears of disease. The price rise is the result of a brutal winter in the grazing areas of the Great Plains and a cyclical drop in the size of cattle herds.

However, leather prices are rising worldwide because of Mad Cow. Fewer cows are being slaughtered in Europe, which has resulted in fewer cowhides, a byproduct of the meat industry.

The wholesale price of leather hides increased 20 percent this spring, reaching historic highs, say furniture makers. Although the increases have not been passed on to retail customers yet, higher prices may be ahead for products ranging in size from wallets to sofas.

Jane Snow is the Beacon Journal's food writer. She can be reached at 330-996-3571 or jsnow@thebeaconjournal.com.Sign up for Jane's free weekly e-mail newsletter at www.ohio.com/snow


04 Jun 01 - CJD - Is the Disease already here?

By Jane Snow, and Mary Ethridge, Beacon Journal staff writers

The Beacon Journal--Monday 4 June 2001


Government says it has taken needed precautions, but others worry disease is already here

First comes the pain and crying. Then the hallucinations and screaming. As the fatal disease progresses, the victim loses all motion and all reason. The brain becomes riddled with holes.

When death comes, it is a blessing.

And scientists believe this lethal new disease is contracted by doing something incredibly ordinary -- eating beef.

``This is as scary as it gets,'' said Phillip Nabors, owner of Mustard Seed Market, a health food store in Bath Township. ``You don't want to think such a thing could happen in the United States.''

So far, it hasn't. But that doesn't mean it won't.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCJD) has been linked to eating beef from cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy -- Mad Cow disease. To keep Mad Cow out of the United States, federal officials in 1997 banned the practice of adding to cattle feed protein supplements made from dead ruminant animals -- animals with four stomachs -- such as cows, sheep, goats and deer.

But it's highly likely that these protein supplements are getting into U.S. cattle feed, because enforcement of the ban has been slow.

``The FDA recognizes that as our greatest area of vulnerability,'' Stephen Sundlof, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, told the Akron Beacon Journal.

And there are other weaknesses in the fire wall the United States has built to stop Mad Cow from getting to this country and infecting beef eaters Please see U.S. A9 U.S. has yet to find one case of Mad Cow Disease spreads across Europe, reaches Canada

Cow brains, which, along with retina and spinal-cord tissue, are thought to be the most infectious parts of tainted animals, are still sold for human consumption in this country.

Techniques used at U.S. slaughterhouses fail to prevent spinal-cord tissue from contaminating equipment and then being mixed with ground meat.

Pigs are exempted from the feed ban and are allowed to eat meat and bone meal made from dead cows and from sheep infected with scrapie, a disease related to Mad Cow. These dead pigs can then be turned into protein supplements that can be fed to cattle.

Calves are allowed to eat feed sprayed with dried cattle blood. Although scientists have no evidence that the mutated proteins -- the hallmarks of Mad Cow and vCJD -- can be transmitted through blood, the possibility has prompted restrictions on human blood donors.

Nutritional supplements can still be made from cow parts. Although the FDA has asked manufacturers not to use materials from countries where Mad Cow has been found, the agency has not banned the practice.

Only a tiny number of cattle slaughtered in the United States are tested for Mad Cow -- not enough for experts to be certain that the disease is not here. Mad Cow has sent beef sales in Europe plunging, and some Americans are wondering whether they, too, should give up their beloved hamburgers.

Not at all, say U.S. government officials, who stress that not one case of Mad Cow disease has been found in this country. Even in Britain, where Mad Cow is most prevalent, the chance of a serving of meat being contaminated with the rare neurological disease is estimated at one in 10 billion, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Scott C. Ratzan, editor of the Journal of Health Communication and a faculty member of the George Washington School of Public Health, puts it bluntly. Ratzan says the theoretical threat of Mad Cow or vCJD to the United States is being ``blown out of proportion'' and facts are getting lost in a frenzy of irrational fear.

``The same person who says they won't eat red meat probably jumps in their car, smokes a cigarette and doesn't put on their seat belt,'' Ratzan said.

But consumer advocates paint another picture. They say the government has moved too slowly, and they suggest that Mad Cow may already be in the United States, silently incubating.

Could that be the case?

``There's no good way of being absolutely sure about that,'' Sundlof admitted.

Spreading across Europe

Mad Cow disease, the scourge of Europe, has spread to 16 countries, including across the Atlantic to Canada. It has decimated the European cattle industry and left 91 people -- 87 in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland -- dead.

It was first identified as a new and deadly disease in 1986 when farmers in far-flung hamlets in Britain noticed that some of their cows were acting strangely -- drooling, losing weight, stumbling and eventually becoming aggressive toward other members of the herd. The wild behavior always ended in death.

At the height of Britain's Mad Cow crisis in January 1993, new cases among cattle were being reported at the rate of 1,000 per week. More than 180,000 head of cattle in Great Britain have been stricken.

The cause of this strange disease was a mystery until 1989, when scientists linked feeding practices to its spread. Although research continues into other possible forms of transmission, such as infection from contaminated soil, it is believed that most cases of Mad Cow worldwide can be traced to feeding cattle meat and bone meal as a protein supplement.

In 1996, researchers at the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh, Scotland, presented evidence linking vCJD to eating meat from cattle infected with Mad Cow disease.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob (pronounced ``krootz-feld yah-kub'') disease had been around for a long time, but it afflicted mostly older people, aged 50 to 75. The new variant mimicked the symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, but its victims were as young as 20.

Both Mad Cow and CreutzfeldtJakob are transmissible spongiform encephalopathies -- diseases in which abnormally shaped proteins called prions ravage the brain and the body's central nervous system.

Protein feed made from dead British cattle was not formally banned in Europe until October. By then, the damage had been done. Although the cases of Mad Cow disease slowed to 1,500 in Britain last year, the disease had spread to other countries.

New laws enacted

As discoveries about Mad Cow were being made in Europe, U.S. officials moved to try to block the disease.

In 1989, the importation from Britain of live cows, feed made from ruminant animals and beef products was banned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The following year, the USDA began destroying and testing cattle that showed signs of neurological problems.

A USDA ban on importing live cows, sheep and goats and on importing ruminant feed was expanded to a ban on such imports from most European countries in 1997. But that feed ban may have come too late. U.S. cattle that ate imported feed may be alive today and infected, because symptoms of Mad Cow do not appear for two to eight years.

Also in 1997, the FDA issued new rules prohibiting protein supplements made from dead cows and sheep from being added to cattle feed in the United States.

To enforce that protein supplement ban, the FDA launched an inspection of U.S. feed lots, dairy farms, feed mills and rendering plants, which produce fat and protein slurry from dead animals. The agency also began a nationwide education program for state livestock inspectors and the beef industry.

The practice of rendering animals appears to be at the heart of the spread of Mad Cow. In 1980, the British rendering industry banned the use of certain chemicals and lowered the cooking temperature used in the process. It is thought that these two shifts in procedure allowed Mad Cow disease to flourish undetected.

During rendering, carcasses that have been stripped of their edible parts are ground up and then decomposed in large vats by boiling under extremely high pressure. The process produces a slurry of protein under a layer of fat called tallow. That slurry is dried into a meat and bone meal product.

After four years of inspections, a number of U.S. feed mills and renderers still aren't in full compliance with the FDA rules.

As recently as a month ago, the FDA was sending warning letters to Ohio renderers and feed mills about violations. Some companies were making both ruminant and nonruminant products in the same vats without washing them in between, according to the FDA letters. Other companies weren't bothering to affix warning labels to their ruminant feed as the law requires.

The FDA estimates that since the ban on adding ruminant protein to cattle feed was instituted, 10,489 mills and renderers nationwide have been visited by inspectors. Most of the 834 firms that failed the initial inspections have been revisited, and according to the FDA, all but 40 of them eventually passed.

In Ohio, 475 rendering plants and feed mills have been inspected since 1998, and 138, or 29 percent, were found not to be in compliance with some aspect of the ban, according to FDA records.

However, many firms have not been inspected. The FDA estimates that 300 licensed and 2,000 legal unlicensed renderers and feed mills still have to be visited.

``We have to make the assumption that some cattle may be getting ruminant meat and bone meal,'' said the FDA's Sundlof.

Cows fed by mistake

In at least one instance, ruminant protein did get into U.S. cattle feed. In January, Purina Mills of Texas announced that some ruminant feed was mistakenly fed to 1,200 cows. Purina agreed to buy all the affected cattle and then destroy them.

The potential for this type of problem, consumer activists say, points out the need for FDA regulations to be expanded. They want a complete ban on animal byproducts in feed for food animals -- and not just because of possible mistakes such as the one Purina made.

``Our view is, so far, we appear to be lucky,'' said Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute, the consumer lobbying arm of New York publisher Consumers Union. ``In our opinion, we don't want to rely on luck for the future.''

The FDA feed ban applies only to ruminants. Protein supplements made from those animals can't be put into feed for those animals.

But protein supplements made from ruminants can be added to feed for other animals, such as pigs. And pigs can be made into protein supplements for cattle feed.

Halloran said pigs should not be allowed to eat protein supplements made from sheep infected with scrapie and from deer and elk that have died from chronic wasting disease -- two Mad Cow-like disorders that are in the United States.

``We allow the pigs to be fed back to cows,'' she said.

Although Mad Cow disease has not been found in pigs in Europe, one study has shown that pigs are capable of contracting the disease.

In this National Institutes of Health study referred to by Halloran, 10 pigs received injections of highly infectious material directly into the brain and stomach. Only one pig developed a neurological disease.

But the FDA's Sundlof said the government is not considering adding swine to the feed ban.

``There's no natural case of a pig ever getting a TSE,'' or transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, Sundlof said.

Halloran also is worried about dried cattle blood being exempted from the feed rule. Calves are commonly fed dried blood as a protein supplement.

``We say that people who have lived in Britain can't donate blood,'' Halloran said. ``But when it comes to animal feed, it's OK.''

In response to criticism, the FDA is rethinking some of its cattle-feed regulations.

The agency is seeking public input on whether dried-blood supplements should be fed to calves, on whether discarded food from restaurants should be fed to cattle, and on whether all feed mills and renderers should be licensed by the FDA.

``We're going to look at the entire scope of the (feed ban) rule and determine if there are other areas that need to be firmed up,'' Sundlof said.

But new rules take time to enact. Once they're proposed, getting them in place will take a minimum of a year, said Dan McChesney, director of the FDA's Office of Surveillance and Compliance.

In the past few years, government officials have been working with the meat industry to prevent brain tissue from cows from mingling with meat that goes to consumers. Yet consumers are still able to buy cow brains for sauteing or making into sandwiches.

``We've gone above and beyond what anyone has asked us to do,'' said Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute, a trade group that represents slaughterers, ``and yet you can still buy brains in this country.''

Selling beef brains is legal because Mad Cow disease has not been found in any animal in the United States, said Paul Brown, senior researcher at the Center for Central Nervous System Disorders at the National Institutes of Health.

``If Mad Cow were here, those people would be dead,'' Brown said.

Or at least dying. According to researchers, vCJD has an incubation period of 10 to 20 years before symptoms appear.

Voluntary changes

Despite inconsistency in government policy, Riley said the meat industry has moved ahead in making voluntary changes in slaughtering techniques.

In 1998, the meat industry stopped using air guns to kill cattle, Riley said. These guns shot bolts into the cow's head, spewing brain tissue that potentially contaminated meat and equipment. In a recent survey of its members, Riley said, the Meat Institute found that all respondents had stopped using the guns.

But Carolyn Smith De Waal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer lobbying group, said slaughtering techniques need to be tightened further to prevent mixing brain and spinal-cord tissue with beef that will go to consumers.

The center plans to petition the USDA to ban the use of the Advanced Meat Recovery Machine, a piece of slaughterhouse equipment that strips meat from cattle carcasses.

Riley said that in 1998, at the order of the USDA, meat institute members began removing the spinal cords from cows before they were processed in the meat recovery machine.

But De Waal said enforcement of this order is lax and the procedure is imperfect. Tests have shown that spinal-cord tissue is still present in some ground meat, De Waal said.

``We still need more protections to prevent Mad Cow disease from entering the human food supply,'' De Waal said.

Americans can also ingest cow organs and tissue by taking nutritional supplements. The bovine extracts can be used in the gelatin surrounding the capsule or, as in the case of glandular supplements, they can be the main ingredient. Although the FDA asked supplement manufacturers in 1994 not to use bovine material from countries where Mad Cow is found, it has not banned the practice. And the FDA has not suggested to supplement manufacturers that they refrain from using tissue or organs from U.S cattle in their products.

More testing urged

Although government officials repeatedly stress that Mad Cow disease is not present in the United States, others aren't nearly so sure.

The Consumer Policy Institute's Halloran said more cattle need to be tested for the disease.

Although the USDA initiated a testing program in 1990, only cattle with obvious symptoms of neurological disease have been targeted -- and not all of them are tested, she said. Live animals cannot be tested; the only way to detect Mad Cow is to examine slices of the dead animal's brain.

``We don't have adequate surveillance of cattle to say conclusively that there's no problem here,'' she said.

Pierluigi Gambetti, director of the National Prion Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, agrees.

Of the 37 million cattle slaughtered in the United States each year, an average of just 1,000 have been tested, Gambetti said. This year, 2,600 cattle are scheduled for testing.

``That's just too small,'' Gambetti said. ``The only way to lessen the panic is to do more testing.... There's always less concern when you know the size. When you know the size of the problem, you now have the ability to put together a plan, a remedy.''

In the meantime, some feed mills and renderers remain uninspected. Protein supplement made from pigs is being fed to cattle. So is cow blood. People are eating cow brains and meat with spinal cord tissue in it. Medical supplements made from European cattle are sitting on store shelves.

But some products, such as Danish corned beef and French beef stocks, are no longer in stores. And this spring, the CDC began advising travelers to Europe who are worried about Mad Cow disease to avoid beef or to stick to whole-muscle cuts such as roasts.

Government officials say Americans should have no concerns about eating U.S. beef. Still, some people are beginning to worry.

``Absolutely, there's concern about it,'' said Nabors of Mustard Seed Market.

Sales of vegetarian-raised beef at his Bath Township and Solon stores have taken off, he said.

``We're not Old McDonald's little farm anymore,'' Nabors said. ``It's a big industrial process, and consequently we're more vulnerable to these kinds of outbreaks.''

Beacon Journal medical writer Tracy Wheeler contributed to this report.

Jane Snow is the Beacon Journal's food writer. She can be reached at 330-996-3571 or jsnow@thebeaconjournal.com.Sign up for Jane's free weekly e-mail newsletter at www.ohio.com/snow

Mary Ethridge can be reached at 330-996-3545 or methridge@thebeaconjournal.com


04 Jun 01 - CJD - Mad Cow altering industry

By Mary Ethridge, Akron Beacon Journal

The Beacon Journal--Monday 4 June 2001


Renderers say government regulations are ruining business -- and warn a sinister problem is brewing

Four years ago, Garry Baas gladly paid for the privilege of picking up other people's dead animals.

These days, he won't be bothered. There's no money in it anymore, thanks to government regulations designed to prevent the spread of Mad Cow disease in the United States.

The regulations took away the largest market for Baas and other renderers, forcing them to alter dramatically the way they do business. And as a result, they believe, the country is going to end up with a larger health problem than the one the regulations were designed to prevent.

Baas knows of only one person in Ohio now willing to pick up dead animals from farms, homes and pet shelters. And that makes him wonder.

``We (Ohio renderers) picked up 13 million pounds of dead animals a year,'' he said. ``So what's everyone doing with them now? This is a hell of a problem all the way around.''

Rendering is at the vortex of the debate on Mad Cow -- a fatal neurological disease that affects cattle and is believed to spread the equally deadly variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease to people who eat beef.

The industry is one most people would prefer not to think about. It has long been a staple of agricultural towns across America where it was often called simply ``the glue factory'' or ``the dog food plant.''

Renderers collect meat scraps, grease and dead animals, including cows, pigs, dogs, cats and roadkill, and then cook them to extract the most useful ingredients. Those ingredients are put into everyday products such as cosmetics, lubricants, pet food and livestock feed. Traditionally, it has been a lucrative business, worth about $2.5 billion in sales nationwide last year.

``Most people don't know what we really do,'' said Terry Renner of F.W. Renner & Sons, a 107-year-old rendering business in Canton. ``They call us the invisible industry because we've always operated on the q.t. We've always preferred to keep it that way.''

Renderers in spotlight

Rendering plants, scientists generally agree, is where Mad Cow first took hold and incubated in Great Britain in the early 1980s. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration took particular aim at U.S. renderers -- and the feed manufacturers they serve -- with regulations designed to prevent the spread of Mad Cow in this country.

During rendering, animal carcasses are ground up and then decomposed in large vats by boiling under extremely high pressure. The process produces a slurry of protein under a layer of fat called tallow. That slurry is dried into a meat and bone meal product.

The FDA regulations banned adding meat and bone meal made from ruminants -- animals with four stomachs, such as cows and sheep -- to feed for ruminants.

The ban hit renderers hard. About 80 percent of U.S. sales of rendered products are to feed manufacturers, according to the National Renderers Association.

In April, Baas, president of Columbus-based Inland Products, and a delegation of Ohio renderers met with Gov. Bob Taft and other officials to explain their financial plight and to warn of the potential pollution problem posed by dead animals.

``This is an accident waiting to happen,'' said Baas, who envisions people just tossing animal carcasses any old place.

Dean Slates, agricultural extension agent for Holmes County, agrees that renderers' recent unwillingness to pick up dead animals has caused significant disposal problems. But he doesn't think most people will resort to tossing carcasses into a ravine or dragging them into the woods. For one thing, the state and federal governments -- well aware of the high disease potential -- has set up hefty penalties for doing so.

``I'd be less than honest if I said no one would do that,'' Slates said. ``But I don't think it would ever become widespread.''

Difficult choices

Outside of rendering, there are few, if any, particularly appealing choices for disposing of dead animals in Ohio.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regulations permit farm animals -- though not roadkill -- to be buried. But it's hard to dig a big enough hole in frozen winter ground, and water and space conditions must be just right to meet EPA regulations.

Incineration is a neat solution, but the equipment and fuel are expensive.

Landfills willing to take dead animals are widely scattered and shrinking in number.

The only other option is composting, a decade-old practice in the poultry business but one rarely used outside it.

Slates has been a big supporter of composting poultry for years. But it's only been since the FDA ruminant feed ban that it's gotten serious interest from those dealing with larger carcasses, he said.

A case in point comes from the Ohio Department of Transportation. In 1999, ODOT began dumping dead deer on a median strip of Interstate 271 in Medina County, not far from Highland High School.

Until then, the department had been tossing the deer into a trash bin from which they would be hauled to the only nearby landfill willing to take them, said Bill Leitch, Wayne County manager for ODOT.

When the landfill stopped taking the deer in 1999, Leitch tried unsuccessfully to find a renderer that would handle them. ODOT was not allowed to bury the deer because of the EPA prohibition on roadkill burial. Incineration would have been too difficult and expensive. No other landfills would take the deer.

So last year ODOT turned to Slates and other agricultural agents for help. A deer-composting facility was created in Wayne County, on the eastern outskirts of Wooster. It was the state's first EPA NEWSlicensed composting facility for roadkill.

Eventually, the composted remains are expected to become fill dirt for state road projects.

Angela Evans of the Ohio EPA's division of solid and infectious waste management said the agency supports composting. Although burying dead farm animals is allowed with restrictions, it's not encouraged because of its potential to pollute groundwater.

But, she said, composting of large animals has been slow to catch on because it's new to most people and requires significant space, special training and a license.

Bigger problem looms

Baas, the Columbus renderer, thinks the solutions to dead-animal disposal aren't coming fast enough.

``We could end up with a bigger health problem than Mad Cow, which isn't even here in the first place,'' Baas said. ``There are plenty of other dangerous diseases in dead cattle.''

Decaying animals can transfer worms and salmonella to soil and water. They also can contaminate the ground with toxic metals.

But the potential problem may be more sinister than even Baas realizes.

Though no cases of Mad Cow have been found in the United States, there's no way to be certain that the disease isn't here incubating. Symptoms of Mad Cow do not appear for two to eight years, and cattle can be tested for the disease only after they're dead.

Paul Brown, senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health, said that if by some chance Mad Cow were incubating here -- and he stresses that there's no hard evidence it is -- then animal carcasses that have been buried, composted or even incinerated in the usual way would indeed pose an environmental threat.

That's because Mad Cow is caused not by a virus or bacteria, but by an abnormal protein called a prion, which is hardy enough to survive long periods and doses of high heat and chemicals.

``It's a very durable pathogen,'' Brown said.

To find out just how durable, Brown and a colleague took several cow brains infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy -- the scientific name for Mad Cow disease -- and buried them in a field. Three years later, the brains had decayed, but the ground where they had been buried was contaminated with prions.

``The good thing is that prions appear to stay where they're put,'' Brown said. ``They didn't appear to leach into the groundwater.''

But he added that much isn't known about the effects of prions on the environment and vice versa.

If animals grazed on ground contaminated by prions, they would likely become infected. Scientists believe grazing in prion-contaminated fields is one of the primary ways that scrapie, another prion disease, spreads in sheep. It's a likely reason that chronic wasting disease, which is also caused by prions, is spreading among deer and elk herds in six Western states.

``It's theoretical,'' Brown said, ``but, yes, the practice (burying cattle infected with Mad Cow) would create problems.''

Looking ahead

In the meantime, the U.S. EPA is working with scientists on regulations controlling the disposal of animals should Mad Cow be discovered in this country.

Those regulations call for prion-infected waste to be incinerated and for those ashes then to be treated with acid. The combination of those two processes appears to kill the prions, said the Ohio EPA's Evans.

The treated ashes would be buried in those landfills -- Ohio has two of them -- designated to accept infectious waste.

Ultimately, whether animal carcasses are burned or buried, it's money lost to the rendering industry.

Tom Cook, executive director of the National Renderers Association, a trade group, has just hired an outside consultant to evaluate how much of a financial hardship the ruminant feed ban has been to the industry. But, he believes, there are plenty of new roads open to renderers, including the use of rendered products as fuel.

``It's tough when your business is going along good and along comes a regulation that changes everything,'' Cook said. ``But that's life. You need to be flexible.''

Mary Ethridge can be reached at 330-996-3545 or methridge@thebeaconjournal.com


04 Jun 01 - CJD - Beef may not be only danger

By Tracy Wheeler, Beacon Journal medical writer

The Beacon Journal--Monday 4 June 2001


U.S. blood suppliers weigh tougher ban on donors seen as Mad Cow risk, amid blood shortage

Among Paula Grau's bills and junk mail was a letter from the hospital. It told her that her son might have contracted an incurable, deadly disease six years earlier when he was given a blood transfusion shortly after birth.

Grau was stunned.

``I didn't understand it,'' said Grau, who lives in Ontario, Canada. ``I fell apart, thinking my wonderful, uplifting, precious son would die... not understanding that this was a hypothetical or theoretical situation. I was just reading that he got blood from someone who died from a disease that is fatal.''

The disease the donor had was Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD), and the letter told her there was little reason to be concerned, that there was ``virtually no evidence'' that her son would develop it.

But for five years, since she received the letter, Grau has worried, even though she knows that the risk to her son Jordan, who's now 11, is minuscule.

There is not a single known case of CJD -- which can incubate in the body for decades -- being transmitted through blood. But Grau's story illustrates why the two main blood suppliers in the United States -- the American Red Cross and America's Blood Centers -- are debating about the right way to safeguard the nation's blood supply from CJD and its Mad Cow-linked variant (vCJD).

America's Blood Centers is following the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration.

Under these guidelines, anyone who lived or traveled in Great Britain for a total of six months or longer between 1980 and 1996 should not donate blood. The same applies for those who have lived or traveled in France or Portugal for a total of at least 10 years since 1980.

The American Red Cross is also following the FDA guidelines for now, but is expected to put much stricter ones in place by September.

These stricter guidelines would turn away donors who have been in Britain for a total of only three months or longer since 1980 and those who have spent as little time as six months in Europe since 1980.

``The American Red Cross plans to implement this policy because it's a prudent and cautious (decision) to prevent the spread of CJD,'' said Jill Garman Neiger, spokeswoman for the Red Cross' northern Ohio region. ``We are now looking... to be the most cautious we can be.''

Fears of blood shortage

In the view of some people, however, that's too cautious.

Blood is already in short supply, and such strict policies will only worsen the shortage, said Melissa McMillian, spokeswoman for America's Blood Centers.

The Red Cross expects to lose 6 percent of its blood supply under the stricter policy. That translates into about 360,000 donors nationwide -- and 12,000 people in Northeast Ohio -- being turned away.

It sets up the very real possibility that more people could die from a lack of blood than from vCJD -- a disease that has yet to appear in the United States.

``It's important to look at the risk vs. the needs,'' said Dr. Scott C. Ratzan, editor of the Journal of Health Communication. ``With this, it's such an infinitesimal risk, but you can actually hurt the blood supply. What happens when something else comes down the pike, a legitimate threat, and the supply suffers again?

``The Red Cross may have jumped a little too quickly, without looking at the scientific debate.''

Even experts can't agree on whether CJD can be passed on in a blood transfusion. When deciding on its guidelines, the FDA advisory committee's votes were often 8-to-7.

``I don't think it's a real risk,'' Ratzan said. ``The scientists on the panel could have easily gone the other way.''

But the Red Cross is remembering what happened in the 1980s, Neiger said, when scientists didn't know whether the AIDS virus could be spread through blood.

By the time the scientific community determined that it could, many people had already been infected by HIV through blood products.

Better safe than sorry

Dr. Jeffery Hord, the director of hematology/oncology at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, sides with caution.

``I think that it is appropriate to put in as many safety checks as possible,'' he said. ``Certainly after the unfortunate transmission of HIV and hepatitis through the blood supply in the early '80s, it led everyone to be more cautious. One can't be faulted for doing that.''

A wide range of patients, including hemophiliacs, cancer sufferers and accident victims, need blood products.

``Those in the general population, who may need one transfusion in a lifetime -- they may be willing to accept this remote risk in order to have blood available,'' Hord said. ``However, if you're a patient with hemophilia and you get treatment twice a week -- factor concentrates can include (blood from) 2,000 to 3,000 donors -- you are exposed to thousands and thousands of donors. The risk is suddenly very different for that patient.''

McMillian, of America's Blood Centers, said CJD has been the subject of media hype and too much inaccurate information.

``Any decisions that are made,'' she said, ``must be based on science and on balancing the theoretical risk with the real risk of not having any blood.''

That's what the Red Cross says it is doing.

``I believe, and it's the Red Cross' position, that the blood supply is the safest it's ever been,'' Neiger said. ``The reason it's so safe is because the Red Cross takes caution when it can and when it should.''

Tracy Wheeler can be reached at 330-996-3721 or tawheeler@thebeaconjournal.com


04 Jun 01 - CJD - Ops cancelled in CJD scare

By Greg Tindle, South Wales Echo

IC Wales---Monday 4 June 2001


Thousands of youngsters across South Wales have had their operations called off because of a fear of catching the human form of Mad Cow disease.

All routine children's surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids - tissues which have been pinpointed as possible carriers of the disease - have been cancelled until disposable surgical instruments are available.

The ban on operations - apart from emergencies - means that 3,500 children are now waiting for treatment. The resumption of surgery will not take place until hospitals receive the new throwaway instruments.

The problem has been caused by a minute risk - believed to be as low as one in 10 million - that the fatal new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be transmitted by the use of standard surgical instruments - even after they have been sterilised.

The halt, which was ordered by the Government, has seen waiting lists for ear, nose and throat treatment across the whole of Wales jump from 7,800 to 8,300 in just one month between March and the end of April.

A UK-wide shortage of disposable instruments means the waiting lists for tonsil and adenoid surgery are set to rise even further.

Cardiff GP Dr Andrew Dearden said youngsters were normally referred for surgery after suffering repeated bouts of tonsillitis.

"An emergency case is usually defined after three or four outbreaks of illness during a year," he said.

A spokeswoman for Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales, Heath, said they normally carry out 600 tonsil and adenoid operations annually, but had performed only a handful so far this year.

"All but clinically urgent cases have been suspended in line with Government guidelines," she said.

"We have recently gone out to tender for the supply of disposable instruments and expect to be able to award a contract within a few weeks. Following this, operations will restart as soon as possible."


04 Jun 01 - CJD - Plasma Supply Subject

Press Release: Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association

YAHOO--Monday 4 June 2001


Plasma Supply Subject of Conference in Baltimore

ANNAPOLIS, Md., June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA) and ABRA, the international association for the source plasma collection industry, are hosting a conference of representatives from the plasma collection and plasma fractionation industry, June 6 - 8 at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Baltimore. The conference brings together over 300 of the leading international scientists, policy makers and industry leaders to discuss critical global health issues such as consumer access, industry standards and programs, the value of innovation, and emerging pathogens. Speakers from China, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Japan will headline the meeting.

The conference opens with a keynote address by Thomas Glanzmann, President of Baxter Hyland Immuno who will speak on the challenge of adequate supply of plasma therapies worldwide. Dr. Qi Bao, graduated from Shandong Medical University in China and obtained his Ph.D in medicine at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London, England. Dr. Bao will speak on global access and the worldwide plasma market. Karl-Friedrich Bopp, Coordinator for Blood Transfusion and Organ Transplantation Activities for the Council of Europe will address Blood and Plasma Collection in Central and Eastern Europe.

Of particular interest is a session on Friday June 8 that brings together issues surrounding emerging pathogens such as parvovirus B19 and Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (the family of human diseases equivalent to the so-called Mad Cow disease). Dr. Bruce Evatt, of the Centers for Disease Control will address Variant CJD Threat in Europe and Hemophilia.

The conference program also includes sessions on topics such as specialty antibody products from human plasma, Quality Plasma Program, the Patient Notification System, and donor screening and recruitment.

PPTA is the international association of the world's leading producers of plasma-based and recombinant biological therapeutics. PPTA works cooperatively with regulatory agencies, patient groups and others to assure the continued safety and high quality of plasma therapeutics and to promote and support harmonized regulations for the industry. The medicines produced by PPTA members are used in treating life-threatening diseases and serious medical conditions including bleeding disorders, immune system disorders, burns and shock.

For further information on the conference or to register, contact PPTA at 410-268-2011 or by visiting the ABRA website at http://www.plasmainfo.org.


04 Jun 01 - CJD - Fears over human health

Staff Reporter

Citizen---Monday 4 June 2001


Fear is growing over the effects of the foot and mouth epidemic on human health following warnings about consuming tap water and dairy products.

One Chorley dairy farm, which lies within three kilometres of the site of the pyre at Ollerton Farm, Withnell, has had its licence suspended by MAFF.

And concern was raised about water after a leading BSE government expert spoke out. Professor Peter Smith said people living near farms where carcasses had been burned or buried should avoid tap water.

He said that animals over five years old are more at risk of having BSE and, if they were buried, then it could get into the water supply.

Concerns regarding drinking water have abounded since the crisis began, but this is the first time risks have been officially acknowledged.

But Jennifer Ware, of United Utilities, insisted drinking water was safe. She said: "Throughout the foot and mouth crisis we have liaised with MAFF, the Environment Agency and local authorities regarding sites to ensure these are nowhere near water supplies, treatment works or mains. There is no risk to public drinking water." And Steve Broughton, spokesman for the Environment Agency, agreed, but said the Agency was investigating the professor's claims.

Meanwhile, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a warning regarding milk and dairy products originating from farms near pyres, following fears of contamination by cancer-causing dioxins released by burning carcasses.

The FSA said that only full-fat whole milk and full-fat milk products from animals that have been grazing within 1.2 miles of pyres are affected, adding that the majority of products sold to consumers will not be affected as it is mixed, or 'bulked' and the risk diluted.

Sir John Krebs, chairman of the FSA, said: "This is highly precautionary advice for a very small number of consumers. It is right that consumers who may be affected have the information to make their own decisions."

Regarding the Chorley dairy farm, David Bradley, principal environmental health officer for Chorley Borough Council, said: "They normally sell bottled milk but their licence has been temporarily suspended by MAFF as a precaution through no fault of their own. The risks are very small and people should keep them in context."


03 Jun 01 - CJD - Mad Cow may be incubating in Canada

Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen

National Post--Sunday 3 June 2001


Ottawa says not enough known about the disease to reassure Canadians

OTTAWA - The fatal brain-wasting disorder commonly known as Mad Cow disease could be silently incubating among cattle and unsuspecting humans in this country, according to a report prepared for Health Canada.

The internal "risk assessment" report, obtained by the Ottawa Citizen through the Access to Information Act, concludes that there is not enough known about the disease to assure Canadians that there is no risk of contracting it.

The mysterious neurological disorder, known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), can strike down animals and humans. Of the family of TSEs, the most notorious is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), which infected at least 180,000 British cattle in the 1980s and 1990s and has recently been discovered among cows in other major European nations.

More than 100 people -- most of them Britons -- have contracted the human form of the fatal illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), apparently by eating BSE-infected beef. The number of victims is sure to grow, although scientists are divided over whether the final toll will be limited to hundreds of people or extend into the millions.

Despite government assurances that Canada is "BSE-free," the internal report paints a less rosy picture. It concludes that while the risk is "low", there is a possibility that BSE and vCJD are already present in Canada, and people may be unknowingly spreading the disease -- which can incubate symptom-free from 10 years to perhaps 40 years -- to other humans.

"It is likely that some Canadians were exposed to the BSE agent through bovine-derived products from the U.K. and possibly from other countries incubating BSE," says the report.

"It is not known whether any Canadians received an exposure high enough to cause disease."

However, the report concludes vCJD "could be incubating in the Canadian population, thus posing a risk of person-to-person transmission through tissue and organ donations, medicines and medical devices prepared from human tissues, and reuse of inadequately sterilized invasive dental, surgical and diagnostic instruments and equipment."

Scientists say vCJD can be spread by used surgical instruments, and they suspect -- but are not sure -- that the agent can also be transmitted through blood.

Despite the many unknowns, the report emphasizes that "the possibility that a TSE risk exists in Canada must be acknowledged."

Specifically, it concludes that BSE "could be incubating in Canadian cows and other livestock, but exposure has not resulted in clinical signs. The absence of clinical disease may be explained by the incubation period being longer than the lifespan of most livestock or by the level of exposure being less than the threshold for disease."

It is believed that cows can incubate BSE from four to seven years before showing symptoms. The report says there's a low risk of BSE emerging in Canada because it has yet to be diagnosed in domestic cattle.

As well, it says it would be difficult for the disease to spread among cattle because Canada has, since 1997, banned the long-standing practice of feeding the ground-up remains of dead cows (known as meat and bone meal) back to cows. It was this cannibalistic feeding method that spread the disease so quickly in Britain.

Nonetheless, the report cautions that "the emergence of BSE in new countries 13 years after the recognition of the first case in the U. K. indicates that this is an international problem. International trade provides opportunities for the spread of disease among livestock."

A particularly vexing problem is "the lack of information on whether any particular product, whether domestic or imported, actually carried infectivity in the past or currently carries infectivity," says the report.

Later this month, three United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization, will meet in Paris to review the threats posed by BSE and vCJD. Scientists, government officials, and consumer and industry representatives will gather to discuss the types of beef by-products that might be spreading BSE worldwide and how humans might also be contracting vCJD and then infecting others.

The Health Canada report prepared by two private consultants with an expertise in toxicology.

Ron Rogers, a department spokesman, says it was the first time a comprehensive review was conducted of TSE risks in Canada.

As for the report's central finding that BSE and vCJD might already be present in Canada, Mr. Rogers said the two diseases must be treated separately. He said that no Canadian has yet been diagnosed with vCJD, but acknowledged that this doesn't mean no one has it.

"I think it's pretty clear that there are a lot of travellers and people who have resided in the European countries during the epidemic. So people could have been exposed."

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) say they have put in place strong safeguards to keep watch for the emergence of TSEs -- the meat-and-bone meal feeding ban being one such precaution.

But critics say those safeguards contain huge loopholes and that the ban should extend to all animals, an extra step taken by Britain years ago, and more recently by the European Union.


03 Jun 01 - CJD - DoD Seeks to Mend Looming Rift in Blood Donor Rules

By Rudi Williams, American Forces Press Service

Defense Link--Sunday 3 June 2001


WASHINGTON, June 1, 2001 -- DoD is working behind the scenes to create a national standard for collecting blood as the American Red Cross prepares to adopt new donor rules in September.

Red Cross officials have said the rules stem from concerns about the spread of "Mad Cow" disease in Europe. The Red Cross plans not to take donations from persons who, at any time since 1980, spend or have spent a cumulative three months or more in the United Kingdom, or a cumulative six months or more in any one or more European countries, or received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom.

DoD and the Red Cross currently follow the Food and Drug Administration's lead, according to Army Col. Mike Fitzpatrick, director of the Armed Services Blood Program. He said the policy for the past two years has been to defer persons indefinitely as donors if they resided in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996 for a cumulative six months or more.

The current deferral rule affects 5 percent or less of DoD's donor population worldwide, he estimated. Implementing the Red Cross' new policy throughout Europe would make about 25 percent of the active duty force ineligible to donate blood, he said.

DoD will continue to follow the FDA, he continued, but the FDA has not agreed to the Red Cross' policy -- and two donor standards will be in use unless it does. DoD doesn't want that.

He said department officials believe the better solution is a national standard for blood donors. DoD, FDA, Human and Health Services and Red Cross officials are working to establish a mutually agreed standard, he noted.

"We've prepared draft guidance and are waiting (for) the final determination. ... We need to know that before we could do anything," the colonel said. "Because of the way the FDA regulates us, it's going to require time to train people, put together standard operating procedures and a recruitment campaign to get donors -- that's why it's taking the Red Cross until September. We'll have to do the same things, but we can't train anyone until we know what we're training them for."

DoD meets its needs using today's donor standards, he said. Even using the Red Cross' more restrictive policy, "We still think we could collect the blood we need within DoD by increasing recruitment efforts, command sponsorship and command emphasis on the need to donate blood," he said.

DoD collects about 100,000 units of blood per year. It must maintain that rate to have enough blood for troops in Kosovo, Bosnia and other areas where safe supplies would be hard to find and tap, Fitzpatrick said.

Everyone wants to be as cautious as possible, he said. "With all the testing and screening we're doing to blood donors, the blood supply is the safest it has ever been," he said. "So, it's safe to give and receive blood." But there are questions about what's reasonable and necessary.

The incurable, always-fatal "Mad Cow" disease is caused by an infectious protein that destroys the victim's nervous system. Brain tissues literally turn spongy and shut down. Called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, the disorder usually kills within 18 months of the onset of symptoms.

Fitzpatrick said there's no evidence the disease is or even can be transmitted through a blood transfusion. To date, fewer than 100 cases of variant CJD have been reported since it was identified, and none was the result of a blood transfusion, he stressed.

The only way the evidence today points to humans contracting variant CJD is by being unusually susceptible to it and eating infected meat. The infectious protein that triggers variant CJD, however, is known to be able to hide for 15 years or more in lymphatic tissue, the appendix, stomach, spleen, white cells, and in the blood at low levels, he said.

At this time, no blood test exists to detect the presence of the infectious protein, he noted.

The DoD veterinarians responsible for the wholesomeness of foods in military systems have determined that service members and their families face little risk of contracting variant CJD, he said.

Deployed service members are at less risk than casual travelers in Europe because military personnel often eat either Meals, Ready to Eat or food from military supply channels, which don't buy meat from the United Kingdom, the colonel noted.


03 Jun 01 - CJD - Worries of cow disease surface

By Will Bettmann, Deseret News staff writer

Deseret News--Sunday 3 June 2001


As barbecue season commences, Americans can go to their grills without the fear of Mad Cow-related disease faced by Europeans. Or can they?

So far, no cases of Mad Cow have ever been reported in the United States, but cattle-feed producers across the country have failed to meet federal standards designed to prevent the disease from entering the food chain.

Nine of Utah's 28 cattle-feed producers failed at least one part of an ongoing inspection by the federal government that checks compliance with rules enacted by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997, according to a database posted by the Center for Veterinary Medicine, a division of the FDA.

Dr. Mike Marshall, Utah state veterinarian, said there were no major violations among Utah firms and that most problems identified in initial inspections were quickly corrected. Scientists have determined that the Mad Cow outbreak in England was probably caused when the remains of diseased cows (called rendered remains) were fed to other cows as supplemental protein. Europeans have now banned the feeding of all animal remains to cattle.

In 1997, the FDA issued rules that banned the feeding of rendered cattle or other ruminant (cud-chewing, multi-stomached) animals to cattle.

However, two major concerns remain. FDA inspections indicate that many feed producers are not fully complying with the new rules, and the FDA has not yet imposed fines or sanctions. Also, loopholes remain in the FDA rules.

For example, non-ruminant animals, such as pigs and chickens, are still fed the rendered remains of cattle, and those non-ruminant animals could then be fed to cattle, leaving a line of potential contamination open.

Humans who eat cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (known as BSE or Mad Cow disease) can develop "new variation" Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD), which, like AIDS, is considered to be 100 percent fatal. About 80 people in England and a handful of other Europeans have contracted nvCJD, but many others may already be infected since the incubation period is believed to be up to eight years or possibly longer.

Ron Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, said that the U.S. government is not really looking for Mad Cow disease because it does not want to find it.

"The U.S. government is currently using second-rate tests. They (the tests) are good for confirming positive results but not for detecting them. Also, we aren't testing enough. Germany is currently testing 20,000 cows a week for BSE, and we've tested 12,000 since 1989," Cummins said.

According to veterinarian Marshall, every cow that shows signs of central nervous system problems is tested.

"We've never shown a single case of BSE in this country," Marshall said. "We test every single animal that has any type of clinical central nervous system problems. Every vet in the U.S. knows about this problem and is on the lookout."

Mad Cow disease was first noticed in England in 1985, but most Americans weren't aware of the disease until 1996 when the British government announced that the disease seemed to be passing from cattle to humans, something it had denied was possible up until then.

BSE is part of a larger class of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Deer and elk can be infected with a TSE known as chronic wasting disease (CWD); sheep can be infected by a TSE known as "scrapie." In all species the symptoms are similar- progressive destruction of brains cells, which leads to disorientation, dementia and death.

In parts of Colorado and Wyoming, deer and elk herds harbor CWD, with up to 8 percent of certain deer herds infected in places. As a result, wildlife officials have urged hunters to take safety precautions such as wearing rubber gloves when dressing animals.

Utah hunter Doug McEwen was one of three hunters who died of nvCJD in 1999, although no conclusive link has been established between hunting and nvCJD.

In April, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, co-sponsored a bill that would bring agriculture, health and safety officials together to make sure the United States is doing everything it can to prevent BSE and foot-and-mouth disease from entering the country.


03 Jun 01 - CJD - USDA Wants to Hire 300 More Vets

Staff Reporter

LA Times--Sunday 3 June 2001


WASHINGTON--The Agriculture Department wants to hire 300 new veterinarians and inspection personnel to strengthen U.S. defenses against foot-and-mouth and Mad Cow disease.

The White House on Friday asked Congress for $35 million to pay for the new employees, as well as buy new X-ray machines and train more dogs to inspect luggage at airports.

Among other duties, the new personnel are to inspect farms that feed food waste to hogs, considered a likely way to spread foot-and-mouth disease. Swill feeding is legal in 33 states and Puerto Rico.

"Given the various animal disease outbreaks in other parts of the world this year, USDA has been conducting a top-to-bottom review of its core programs to ensure we have the necessary resources to protect American agriculture," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said.

Earlier, Veneman authorized $32 million in new spending to hire 350 additional inspectors and dog teams.

The United States has been free of foot-and-mouth since 1929 and has never had a case of Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Foot-and-mouth is harmless to people but Mad Cow is linked to a fatal human illness.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota has called for a ban in imports of meat and livestock and this week asked the General Accounting Office to investigate USDA's preparedness.


02 Jun 01 - CJD - Multi-state meeting slated to discuss chronic wasting disease

Associated Press

Associated Press---Saturday 2 June 2001


The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission plans to hold a June 13 meeting in this western Nebraska city to focus on regional cooperation to monitor the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer.

Game and Parks Biologist Bruce Morrison said officials from eight states and the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, will meet to share information on the fatal disease.

The disease has been found in two wild deer in southwest Kimball County.

Morrison believes testing of deer harvested last year and from two planned hunts by commission personnel earlier this year indicate that only a small portion of the deer population in Nebraska is affected.

The state agency would like to test 500 deer taken during the hunting season this fall to make certain chronic wasting disease is not spreading.

He said the commission will issue an additional 200 antlerless deer hunting permits in hopes of thinning the deer population.


01 Jun 01 - CJD - Burial of carcasses 'flouts BSE guidelines'

By David Charter, Health Correspondent

Times--Friday 1 June 2001


The Ministry of Agriculture was accused yesterday of flouting guidelines aimed at protecting water courses from BSE by burying 10,000 foot-and-mouth cattle old enough to carry the disease.

Geoff Bateman, a senior official from the Environment Agency, said yesterday he was surprised that MAFF had allowed burials to continue for five weeks when its own guidelines called for incineration. He said that his staff were trying to identify the sites to make sure that they could not contaminate water supplies.

The search has been narrowed down to 55 burial sites, mostly in Cumbria but also in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and the North East. Statistically, 40 of the 10,000 (Mad Cow Correspondent's Note: 2% of the British cattle herd remains infected with BSE so the correct number is 200 ) cattle over five years of age would have BSE although carcasses were not checked before burial.

Mr Bateman was speaking at the introduction of a year-long monitoring programme on the public health impact of foot-and-mouth.

The agency's concerns about BSE follow a warning from the Food Standards Agency last week that cancer-causing dioxins from cattle pyres may have found their way into milk .

Pat Troop, the deputy chief medical officer, said yesterday that the risk of the BSE-causing prion escaping into the water supply was tiny. She admitted that water purification could not kill the prion nor could it be detected. If there were leakages from sites, however, other material would act as markers for the presence of BSE material. There had been no leakages into public water supplies so far and none had been found in spot checks on private water supplies.

Ms Troop said: "We have to acknowledge that MAFF and the Army were faced with a very big problem... it is recognised that in the early stages people made decisions that later on in the epidemic would not have been made."

Checks will now be stepped up to examine air quality, water supplies and the food chain in foot-and-mouth areas.

Ms Troop denied that the start of a coherent public health monitoring programme yesterday was shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted. The programme was a continuation of stringent checks, some of which had been in place since the outbreak began just over three months ago, she said.

MAFF was stung by the criticism from the Environment Agency. A spokesman said that there was always a presumption against burial where that was feasible. But he added: "The Environment Agency was content for burial to be used where there were no other options." The spokesman said that it had not even issued any formal advice to MAFF until March 26 - five weeks after the start of the epidemic - and only then did it object to the burial of any slaughtered cattle.

It was disclosed yesterday that MAFF has been concerned that milk tankers could have spread the foot-and-mouth virus around the country. Farmers in Cheshire in particular are concerned that a tanker owned by Express Dairies collected milk from farms in the latest hotspot area, around Settle, in the Yorkshire Dales, before coming to their farms.

The outbreak in the Yorkshire Dales claimed another four infected farms yesterday and MAFF extended movement controls. There were three new cases in Cumbria and one in Cleveland, bringing the total to 1,669.


01 Jun 01 - CJD - Maff knew of BSE risk before cattle burials

James Meikle and Paul Brown

Guardian--Friday 1 June 2001


The Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) allowed cattle at risk of carrying BSE to be buried as part of the foot and mouth cull for five weeks despite being warned against it before the slaughter started, it emerged yesterday.

The practice has been effectively banned since the end of March because of the danger of infective protein entering the soil or water sources.

But a senior official from the environment agency said the presumption had been from the start of the outbreak that older cattle should not be buried. "We were very surprised to find animals over five years old had been buried ," said Geoffrey Bateman, coordinating the agency's part of the cross-departmental response to the epidemic.

Seven new cases of the disease were identified yesterday, four in Skipton, north Yorkshire, bringing the total around the town to 12 in 10 days. Extra movement restrictions have been imposed on farms throughout the area, which includes Settle and Clitheroe, in Lancashire.

Two more cases were reported in Cumbria and one in Cleveland as the overall total climbed to 1,668.

The health department attempted to reassure the public about the low risk of infection or pollution from carcasses waiting for disposal. It also promised that monitoring would continue long after the epidemic had waned.

It insisted that routine checks had been in place since the start, although it emerged that extra monitoring was not conducted until long after. Checks on air pollution around pyres started in April and the food standards agency only began systematic monitoring as cattle were turned out of winter quarters to graze a few weeks ago. It has already warned of a small extra risk to health from full fat dairy products from farms near pyres.

Mr Bateman's potentially embarrassing remarks were countered by a Maff spokesman, who said: "Where other options were not available they were content we should bury."

He added that the risks from contamination with BSE prions from the remains of old cattle were very small.

Advisers on the threat of BSE have said that rendering and incineration of older cattle is far safer than burial . About 10,000 cattle over five years old were buried early in the epidemic, mainly along the Welsh borders, near Worcester and Gloucester and in the north-east and north-west. Of these, an estimated 40 (Mad Cow Correspondent's Note: 2% of the British cattle herd remains infected with BSE so the correct number is 200 ) may have been infected taking into account current levels of BSE in the national herd, Such older animals are banned from food.

The environment agency is now checking an estimated 55 burial sites where older cows were buried to reassess the potential risks and is trying to ensure that disinfectant used on farms to clean up after culls does not leach into water.

Pat Troop, deputy chief medical officer, denied any suggestion that health concerns had been downplayed. Given that 4m animals would be destroyed to contain foot and mouth, the vast majority of caracasses had been "disposed of in an extraordinarily effective and safe way". The authorities had had a huge problem to deal with and it had been recognised that in the early stages people may have made decisions they would not have made later on.

A Department of Health summary published yesterday said that while the risk of humans acquiring foot and mouth is extremely small, "disposal of carcasses on the scale now being undertaken cannot be carried out without some risk to human health". It listed its preferred order of disposal, withthe boiling down of remains as the safest option.


01 Jun 01 - CJD - MAFF accused over cattle burials

Reuters

YAHOO--Friday 1 June 2001


The government has been accused of breaking guidelines to protect water courses from BSE contamination with the burial of 10,000 foot and mouth cattle old enough to have the disease.

Geoff Bateman, an official at the Environment Agency, expressed surprise at a MAFF decision to allow burials for a five week period when the department's own guidelines required incineration. The agency is trying to identify burial sites to assess the risk.

The government's deputy medical officer, Pat Troop, said that risks were tiny and that no leakages into the water supply had been detected.


01 Jun 01 - CJD - CJD on increase as human death toll passes 100

By David Derbyshire

Telegraph--Friday 1 June 2001


The death toll for the human form of Mad Cow disease has reached 100 and shows no signs of slowing down, scientists said last week.

The landmark figure was revealed as Government advisers warned that elderly patients with variant CJD - the disease linked to eating BSE-infected beef - could be dying undiagnosed and that the true scale of the epidemic could be far worse.

One of Britain's leading epidemiologists warned that the most optimistic predictions of the spread of vCJD could now be ruled out. In the first five months of the year there were 16 confirmed or suspected new cases of vCJD. If new cases continue to emerge at the same rate, the 2001 toll will top last year's total of 28 cases.

Prof Peter Smith, chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), which advises the Government on BSE, CJD and the related sheep disease scrapie, said: "It is an arbitrary landmark, but obviously every additional case is of great concern. But it has reached 100 and some of the earlier predictions were that it would not reach 100. We don't know how it's going to evolve."

An early model of the disease by Prof Roy Anderson, another member of SEAC and an epidemiologist at Imperial College, London, predicted a range of deaths between 100 and 100,000. Prof Anderson warned that the epidemic was still rising.

He said: "It will be a long time before we have an idea of the scale of this epidemic so that the bottom line remains that the future is still uncertain." Although most patients with vCJD are in their 20s and 30s, a patient aged 74 died of the disease last year.

SEAC called for more post mortem examinations to be conducted on elderly people who die with suspected dementia, in case vCJD is being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's or senility.

A relative of the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown died from variant CJD, an inquest was told last week.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded on William Armsted, 34, of Lympstone, Devon, at the hearing in Exmouth. Mr Armsted was a nephew of Sir Paddy's wife, Jane.


01 Jun 01 - CJD - Study links Mad Cow to cattle feed



Gulf Daily News---Friday 1 June 2001


PARIS: A study by French scientists supports the theory of a link between the presence of animal matter in cattle feed and the incidence of Mad Cow disease.

The study launched in June last year on more than 30,000 animals considered at risk of carrying the disease has shown that animals born between 1993 and 1995, or after a ban on animal matter in cattle feed came into force, show the greatest signs of exposure to the virus.

The report said the chance of the disease passing through animal feed in farms appeared to be the most likely explanation for the high numbers of animals infected in those age groups.

The French food safety agency Afssa, which led the study, said it "confirms that despite the ban on animal feed for cattle since 1990, animals remained exposed" to the disease.

However, it warned that because of the disease's incubation period of around five years, six- to eight-year-old animals were statistically more likely to develop the disease in 2000 to 2001, the period of the study.

The report also revealed an infection rate of the disease in animals considered at risk of 0.16 per cent, which although not considered to be alarming was at the high end of the scale, according to Martin Hirsch, head of the agency.


01 Jun 01 - CJD - Internet shoppers warned about Mad Cow contamination

Staff Reporter

ABC News Australia--Friday 1 June 2001


The National Health and Medical Research Council has today warned Internet surfers about the dangers posed by overseas products possibly carrying the human form of Mad Cow disease.

It says there are several sites that offer products, such as nutritional supplements, which contain animal material, which have not as yet been assessed by regulatory authorities in Australia.

The Council says consumers should only use products which have met Australian requirements.