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Hemophiliacs demand plasma information
Abatoir worker's medical notes found in street
BMJ study finds no occupational risk
EU wants talks with US on beef labeling
BSE in Switzerland--the past and the present.
Cattlemen attack billboard
Genentech: $50 million fine for illegally marketing growth hormone
After 'Mad Cow' Scare, Uganda to Resume Importing

Hemophiliacs demand plasma information

April 13, 1999 The Ottawa Citizen A6 Mark Kennedy 
Canada's hemophiliacs, who suffered the most in the tainted-blood tragedy, are, according to this story, outraged at the federal government for keeping them in the dark once again; this time, over whether they are in jeopardy of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Their frustration centres around the case of a Utah plasma donor, Doug McEwen, who died March 26 of CJD. Last December, Health Canada temporarily quarantined blood products containing his plasma but decided after a week to clear the products for re-distribution.

Hundreds of hemophiliacs who rely on the blood products are refusing to take the lots implicated with Mr. McEwen's plasma. Others are reluctantly infusing the blood-clotting products but are haunted by fears they might some day develop CJD, a rare and fatal neurological disorder. They seek is detailed information from government. Hemophiliacs fear the quarantine was lifted prematurely because there isn't enough conclusive evidence to determine if Mr. McEwen has the most common, ``classical'' form of CJD and not some new, more virulent, strain.

They say they understand U.S. researchers have completed the autopsy of Mr. McEwen and want to see the full results. But they say Health Canada, kept abreast of developments involving Mr. McEwen by U.S. health authorities, hasn't been very helpful.

On March 31, five days after Mr. McEwen died, a senior Health Canada official wrote to the Canadian Hemophilia Society. The departmental official, Doug Kennedy, said the government had no new information about Mr. McEwen and suggested to hemophiliacs if they wanted to ``obtain reassurances regarding the diagnoses'' they should contact a University of Toronto neurologist.

The hemophilia society was furious with the response, which it characterizes as ``unacceptable'' and ``unusual, to say the least.'' Joe Losos, assistant deputy minister of the Health Protection Branch, said in an interview last evening his officials, including Mr. Kennedy, are doing all they can to get information on the McEwen diagnosis. He said he's been told the autopsy is not complete and vowed hemophiliacs will be given the results as soon as the department has them.

Mr. Losos said it's ``understandable from a human perspective'' why the hemophiliacs are so anxious. The story says that governments say Mr. McEwen had the classical strain, but some U.S. scientists and consumer groups say it's possible the man, who hunted, is the first known victim to have contracted a newer strain from eating deer and elk.

CJD victim's medical notes found in street

Thu, Apr 15, 1999  By Harriet Tolputt, PA News

Comment (webmaster): It is very strange that we are learning about this case from papers blowing aroung on the street. The death of an abattoir worker is highly suggestive of occupational exposure. The age of onset would have been 23-24, making nvCJD a very likely diagnosis. It speaks poorly to the surveillance methods that the father had to make 42 phone calls to get doctors to listen. This is clearly a confirmed diagnosis so one wonders why it did not surface on the official statistics page updated on 12 Apr 99. And the authors of the recent BMJ article asserting no occupational risk look very silly not to have included this case.

"Health authority officials were today investigating how the confidential medical records of a man who died from mad cow disease were found in the street. The notes about abattoir worker Jason Keat, 25, who died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in February, were discovered blowing along a street in the village of Bempton, East Yorkshire.

The photocopies were handed in to the Bridlington Free Press newspaper, along with the mental health medical notes of two other patients, after an anonymous telephone call. A spokeswoman from East Yorkshire Community Healthcare NHS Trust said they were treating the find very seriously. She said:

"The notes would have been made available to a number of different people legitimately. We have no idea how they came to be handed in to the newspaper. "A full investigation has been launched and we are hoping to get to the bottom of this matter very quickly. "The notes on Mr Keat do not relate to the CJD and the other people who are involved have been informed."

Mr Keat's parents Ian and Linda, who live in Somerset, were said to be to be angered about the lack of confidentially. Mrs Keat said it was distressing as they were trying to get over their son's death. Ian Keat, 46, said when he heard his son's records had been found it was like a "slap in the face."

"It was awful, something we didn't need. He had only been dead for six weeks and my wife was just starting to pick herself up. "We are still struggling and now she has been knocked straight back down again," he said. Mr Keat added: "We want to know who, why and how? "I have seen my MP and have been in touch with a solicitor about this."

His son had been a happy, healthy, newly-wed, he said. Then in July last year the caring father-of-one turned in to an aggressive, violent man. Mr Keat said: "He was a loving husband, father and son, very outgoing, a healthy, strapping lad. "He just completely changed around and became the opposite of what he was."

Mr Keat junior was then admitted to hospital, but it was only when his parents approached the doctors that they began to suspect it could be the human form of mad cow disease. Mr Keat added: "It took 42 telephone calls before they began to take note. "My aim now is to have a co-ordinator in each health authority to organise care for patients with the disease, because it isn't going to go away."

Genentech to pay $50 million fine for illegally marketing growth hormone

April 14, 1999 Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO - Genentech Inc. agreed Wednesday to pay $50 million and plead guilty to illegally marketing its growth hormone drug, marking one of the largest fines ever levied against a pharmaceutical company. Genentech will admit that from 1985 to 1994 it aggressively marketed the synthetic hormone Protropin for treating burns and a kidney disorder, even though those uses were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. If the judge approves the plea bargain, it would be the first time a pharmaceutical firm is found guilty of the criminal charge of promoting a drug for uses not approved by the FDA.

Growth hormone, the company's first product, which was launched in 1985, was approved for sale to children suffering from a rare growth disorder called hypopituitary dwarfism. But the agency in 1994 suspected Genentech's sales representatives were pushing doctors to also prescribe the drug to healthy, but short children.

A 1996 survey in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 40 percent of patients were getting the drug for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Off-label use is legal, but drug makers may not promote it. Genetech's Protoprin sales totaled more than $1.2 billion between 1985 and 1994. Sales of the drug, which last year were $214 million, have declined in recent years to due competition. Government investigations also looked into allegations that Genentech gave kickbacks to doctors who were big prescribers. But that issue was not included in the settlement.

The illegal marketing practices were conducted under a different regime at Genentech. The company gained a reputation for aggressive marketing under its former chief executive officer, G. Kirk Raab. He was fired for financial improprieties in mid-1995, just as the federal probe began. Federal officials said Genentech halted the illegal marketing in 1994 and has taken steps to reform its marketing. "This insidious practice distorts medical judgments, boosts health care premiums and adds to the cost of taxpayer-supported government health care plans," said U.S. Attorney Robert Mueller.

About 30,000 children are treated with growth hormones in the United States yearly, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only limited use, such as for children who have hormone deficiencies or a rare chromosomal abnormality. The FDA has cautioned that attempts to boost a child's height for cosmetic reasons could lead to tumors, diabetes, hip problems or difficulties with the child's self-esteem.

"This unprecedented prosecution and fine sends a clear and strong signal that FDA takes very seriously promotions using illegal means," said Jane Henney, FDA commissioner. Protropin, was controversial from the start because of its $20,000 annual cost and because it stirred an ethical debate over who should get the drug. In the mid-1980s, Genentech faced competition in the growth-hormone field from a far larger rival, Eli Lilly & Co. Genentech's tactics helped it to win a larger market share.

The $50 million penalty was first announced by Genentech last Friday as a proposed settlement. It will consist of a $30 million criminal fine and a $20 million civil penalty. South San Francisco-based Genentech made $181.9 million in profits on $1.06 billion in sales in 1998. Shares of Genentech on Wednesday rose 7 cents to 86.63 on the New York Stock Exchange


BMJ study finds no occupational risk

 BMJ 1999;318:1044-1045 (17İApril 1999)
PaulİAylin, JuliaİBunting,İBiancaİDe Stavola,  Michel PİColeman
This article had the misfortune to appear 2 days after the 25 year old abattoir worker's medical records were found blowing around in the street. The authors only included 13 deaths of nvCJD to 1994 in any event. Nothing can be learned about occupational hazards of nvCJD by looking at familial and sporadic CJD from different strains.

Mortality from dementia in occupations at risk of exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy: analysis of death registrations

Since the early 1980s close contact with animals or animal products infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy has posed a putative risk of infection with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Several groups with potentially high exposure have already been identified.

To study whether transmissible spongiform encephalopathy has had any effect on people working in animal husbandry and slaughter, we used national mortality records to examine patterns of mortality from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other dementias during 1979-80İand 1982-96.

We studied people who died aged 20-74İyears during 1979-1996İin England and Wales and for whom the occupational information recorded at death included butcher and abattoir worker, farmer and farm worker, or veterinarian. Women were selected on the basis of their own occupation, if recorded, or on the occupation of their spouse.

Table showsİnumbers of deaths, proportional mortality ratios (PMR), and 95% confidence intervals for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and dementia among men and women aged 20-74İin selected occupational groups, England and Wales, 1979-96İ

The causes of death selected for study were Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (ICD-9 046.1) and a wide range of dementias, including those most likely to be misdiagnosed as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. [This cites a 1984 article by Will.] It was not possible to separate deaths from new variant disease. There were in any case too few deaths from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease within the study period (13İdeaths during 1994-63) to include them as a separate category.

We calculated the age standardised proportional mortality ratio for each occupational group and each disease category. The 95% confidence intervals were calculated by assuming that the observed number of events followed a Poisson distribution. The data were grouped into four periods (1979-80İand 1982-3,İ1984-7,İ1988-91,İand 1992-6). Sex specific linear trends in the proportional mortality ratio over time were examined by fitting a Poisson regression model4 to the observed numbers of deaths in each year, with the year and the expected number of deaths as the explanatory variables. The estimated risk ratios for successive calendar years represent the average linear change over time in the proportional mortality ratios.

During the study period, 4,145,898 deaths were registered in people aged 20-74.İOf these, 92,365 occurred in farmers, 22,596 in butchers, and 970İin veterinarians. In farmers and farm workers only 12İdeaths were attributed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (table). No deaths were recorded from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in butchers or abattoir workers... No veterinarians died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease during the entire period and only six died from dementia.

We found no increase in deaths from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or other dementias during 1979-96İamong these occupational groups. Among farmers and farm workers there were four deaths certified as due to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in men and one in a woman during 1992-6,İbut the proportional mortality ratios are not higher than might be expected by chance. The study, assuming 80% power, would be able to detect at least 1.5İadditional deaths in male farmers each year with 95% confidence.

It is difficult to monitor trends in rare diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease because of small numbers of deaths and doubts about the precision of diagnosis and certification of death. However, surveillance of deaths in these occupational groups will remain necessary to identify promptly any trends in mortality from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or its new variant. Commentary: Uncertainty over length of incubation tempers optimism Same issue of BMJ AnnickİAlpÈrovitch, Institut National de la SantÈ et de la Recherche MÈdicale, Paris,İFrance The possible consequences of the exposure of large populations to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) raise major public health concern. Among the studies which have been conducted since the identification of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in 1996,İsome have contributed to this concern while others provided reassuring results.

To date, only 38İcases of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have been reported by the national surveillance unit in Edinburgh and, except one in France, no case has been identified in any other European country. The results of Aylin et al add to the reassuring evidence. They examined mortality from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other dementias among groups with potentially high exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Analysis did not show any increase in mortality during 1979-96.İIn particular, mortality from dementia was stable over the study period, suggesting that atypical Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease did not constitute an important proportion of the dementia category.

The absence of any increasing trend in population groups with high exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy increases optimism about the size of a putative future epidemic. However, these results must be interpreted with caution because predictions based on currently available data are affected by the length of the incubation period of the disease.

The European Union collaborative study of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease showed that the peak incidence of classic sporadic disease occurred in the 70-79İyear age group and that the disease was extremely rare under the age of 40İyears. This distribution of age at disease onset suggests a slow, endogenous or acquired, neurodegenerative process associated with accumulation of the pathological prion protein in the brain. In iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease the exact date or length of exposure to infected materials can be defined, allowing the length of the incubation period to be estimated. Reports indicate that the incubation period may vary from 2İyears to more than 30İyears. In Kuru, another transmissible spongiform encephalopathy which was mainly acquired by oral route, the incubation period is variable and can exceed 20İyears.

The incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle increased rapidly from the early 1980s to 1992-3,İthen decreased. If the incubation period of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is short, then those who have developed the disease since 1995İhave been infected when the level of exposure was high. If the incubation is 15İyears or more, then these people were infected when the level of exposure was low. The results of Aylin et al support an optimistic scenario about the size of a future epidemic of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease if the incubation is short, but with a longer incubation less optimistic prospects cannot be excluded. This uncertainty re-emphasises the need to continue epidemiological surveillance of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Europe.


British beef ban may be eased in June

April 14, 1999  Associated Press
BRUSSELS, Belgium - June may mark the easing of the three-year ban on British beef exports introduced at the height of Europe's "mad cow" scare, a European Commission spokesman said Wednesday. "The best case scenario is that the ban is lifted sometime in June," said Gerry Kiely, agriculture spokesman at the European Union executive body.

The commission imposed the worldwide export ban in 1996 after the British government acknowledged a possible link between a brain-destroying cattle ailment called bovine spongiform encephalopathy with an equally fatal human illness, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The EU agreed last November to allow Britain to resume selective exports pending slaughterhouse inspections. It will allow the export of British beef from animals born after August 1996, when Britain banned the use of ground animal remains in cattle feed.

Veterinary experts have been inspecting British slaughterhouses since Monday and will report within 25 days to the EU Standing Veterinary Committee, Kiely said. "If they're satisfied, then they can set a date" for the resumption of exports, said Kiely.

In 1995, Britain exported 270,000 tons of beef, worth $1 billion. Although mad cow cases have been detected in other countries, the overwhelming majority have been in Britain.

Cattlemen attack billboard

The Associated Press By CHRISTY LEMIRE 7 Apr 99
DALLAS (AP) -- Got a beef with the beef industry? You might want to keep it to yourself unless you want a visit from a new Texas beef task force. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is setting up a hotline for people in the beef industry to call if they hear anyone disparaging their products.

Rob Hosford, spokesman for the Fort Worth-based association, said the hotline and a related task force will focus mostly on the news media that air or print such comments from beef critics. ``If we hear XYZ radio station carrying something about the beef industry, procedures and products that is derogatory, unfounded and untrue, with this task force we will send someone over there to re-educate, so the next time they talk they'll be talking from the right side of the ballpark,'' Hosford said.

The hotline was inspired by a billboard posted briefly in Amarillo last month that stated ``Jesus was a vegetarian.'' The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had planned to leave the sign up for 30 days, but the billboard company took it down after four days because the message sparked so much controversy in the heart of beef country.

Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vegetarian campaign coordinator, said he was not surprised Texas beef leaders have taken this approach. ``Clearly, they are running scared,'' Friedrich said. ``All the propaganda in the world can't sanitize their product. Eating animals is catastrophic for the environment. We all know that.''

Hosford said cattle raisers have no intention of infringing on anyone's right to free speech, and he knows some critics might continue to slam the beef industry even after a visit from the task force. He said the task force will use scientific data from university studies to make its point. ``We can't force our agenda on anyone. We're not going to try to do that,'' Hosford said. ``We're just trying to inform people to make sure they have the correct facts.''

The announcement comes a year after a federal jury in Amarillo ruled talk show maven Oprah Winfrey did not defame the beef industry when a guest on her show in April 1996 said there was a risk U.S. beef could spread mad cow disease.

USDA says Thorn Apple meats from Arkansas plant are tainted

April 13, 1999  Reuters News Service
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Agriculture Department said Tuesday that all meat and poultry from a Thorn Apple Valley plant in Arkansas were tainted and unfit for human consumption.

About nine million pounds of meat and poultry products from the plant are in warehouse storage throughout the United States, and 12 million pounds of the tainted meat were exported to Russia and South Korea, the USDA said. The food was not prepared under federal regulations and may contain "physical, chemical and or microbiological contaminants," the USDA said.

In January, the same Thorn Apple Valley plant recalled 30 million pounds of hot dogs because of suspected contamination with listeria, a bacteria that can be dangerous to pregnant women and people with weak immune systems. The Michigan-based company filed for bankruptcy protection in March after the costly recall, and hired an investment bank to try and sell its assets.

The new contamination was spotted by USDA officials as part of their continuing investigation into the Forrest City, Arkansas, plant's problems, a spokeswoman for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said.

"Thorn Apple Valley was notified that all product on hold is unfit for human consumption and cannot be reprocessed for human consumption," the USDA said in a statement. Consumers should check their refrigerators for any Thorn Apple product with "EST 13529" or "EST P-13529" appearing on the package label, the USDA said.

Irradiated Beef

AP US & World)   Wed, Apr 14, 1999 By MOLLY WOOD
Gene Ray envisions a world where children eat meat decontaminated by low-grade electron beams like they readily drink milk decontaminated by pasteurization. Ray is president and chief executive of Titan Corp., which is installing what he says is the first system in the country to electronically pasteurize ground beef for commercial purposes.

"I think it's something that we have to do," he said Tuesday. "There is a real public health problem, and in every case, it has been proved that (the process) is perfectly safe." San Diego-based Titan will build and operate the so-called "E-beam system," and meatpacking giants IBP Inc. and Excel Corp. will test market the irradiated beef later by early 2000 to gauge consumer acceptance.

Interest in irradiation has grown since recent contamination scares, including 1997's recall of 25 million pounds of ground beef feared contaminated with E. coli bacteria. "We've had several major customers express interest in offering the product," said Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for IBP. "So that's contributed to our interest. It's another layer of protection."

During irradiation, meat is subjected to low-level doses of gamma rays or electron beams. Ray believes the electron beam process is superior to gamma ray irradiation because the technology is easier and cheaper to implement. Both, he said, are equally safe. The process has been used for years on limited amounts of produce, spices and poultry, but the irradiation of red meat was just approved by the federal government in February.

Some groups have opposed the procedure if it involves gamma rays, and health advocates worry that using irradiation might compromise other safety measures such as proper handling and plant sanitation.

Excel spokesman Mark Klein said he feels confident the informed public will not have concerns about irradiated meat. "We'll have to let people know that the technology is safe and that if they're looking for that added measure of safety, they may very well want to try this," he said. He said irradiated beef could cost slightly more than untreated meat.

Cloned cows eaten in Japan

April 14 , 1999 (Kyodo) TOKYO,-- A number of cloned cows bred inlivestock experiment stations have been shipped to the market asedible beef and may already have been sold to consumers through retailers, informed sources said Thursday. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry is now checking how many such cows have been shipped, ministry officials said,adding that meat from the scientifically bred bovines is no tharmful to humans.

According to a ministry official, 370 calves were born from 1990 through April 1998 in Japan by transplanting the nuclei of high-quality fertilized eggs into unfertilized eggs. Unlike the use of somatic cells, which produced Dolly the sheepin Britain, the fertilized egg-based cloning technology produces calves identical to those of natural birth, the official said.

The ministry has no intention of banning such shipments, the official said, citing the safety of meat from such cows. Since information on the breeding of cloned cows at livestock experiment stations is available on the Internet, the ministry does not consider it necessary to release shipment data, according to the official. The ministry clones cows at the stations across Japan to improve the productivity of the livestock industry.

EU wants talks with US on beef labeling

Reuters World Report Mon, Apr 12, 1999
The European Union will soon ask the United States for talks on a labeling plan that would allow the sale of U.S. hormone-treated beef in the European market, a senior EU official said on Monday. Hugo Paemen, European Commission Ambassador to the United States, told reporters that the time had come for both sides to sit down "around a round table" to hash out an acceptable labeling solution.

Last month, the United States published a list of more than $900 million worth of EU goods that could be hit with 100-percent duties if the EU does not open its market to beef from cattle injected with artificial growth hormones. The United States says it is justified in threatening the duties because the World Trade Organisation has twice ruled against the EU's beef-hormone ban, and the EU has so far taken no action to open its market.

The WTO has given the EU until May 13 to comply with its rulings. Although there is just one month left before that deadline, Paemen said he did not know precisely when labeling talks would occur.

"But I have been advised very strongly that they will take place," he said. "We will certainly ask for it." The United States and the EU agree that labeling offers a practical solution for resolving the 10-year-old dispute. It would let the EU consumer decide whether to eat the hormone-treated beef, both sides say.

Where the disagreement comes is over what the label would say. Another sore spot is the EU's admission that it won't be able to meet the May 13 deadline for lifting the ban. The United States has proposed a set of beef labels make no reference to use of artificial growth hormones. They would simply say "Inspected by the U.S. Agriculture Department" or some similar designation. The EU wants a label with some reference to the means of production.

"If you say, 'let the consumer decide', then you at least have to put the consumer in a position where he can decide," Paemen said.

While that seems reasonable, U.S. cattle producers say a label that singles out artificial growth hormones would unduly raise concerns about about a safe production practice. The EU also has insisted that the WTO rulings gave it the right to conduct a new study on the health effects of eating hormone-treated beef. One reason that the EU won't meet the May 13 deadline is because that study won't be done until late this year.

The United States has disputed that the EU has right to conduct a new study. It also has argued a new study is unnecessary since scientific experts have previously found artificial growth hormones to be safe. Paemen said Monday that he thought the EU was prepared to go ahead with some sort of beef labeling plan "whatever comes out of the scientific assessment."

E.U. Official: No Intent To Use Beef Row To Distort Trade

 Dow Jones -By Kim Archer Wed, Apr 7, 1999
WASHINGTON --The European Union intends to abide by the World Trade Organization ruling on imports of hormone-treated beef, but it takes time to do so, an European Commission official said Wednesday.

"There is no intention on our part to use this particular case to distort trade. It is our intention to abide by the rules," Anastassios Haniotis, an official with the E.C. Delegation, said Wednesday during a breakfast panel discussion on U.S. agricultural trade policy, sponsored by the Washington International Trade Association.

For the past decade, the E.U. has banned imports of beef treated with growth hormones. The U.S. has long cited the ban as unscientific and in violation of WTO principles. A WTO dispute panel ruled in August 1997 the E.U. ban on hormone-treated beef violated provisions of the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary agreement. The case was appealed and an appellate body upheld the panel's decision. The U.S. has given the E.U. until May 13 to begin to import U.S. beef.

But the E.U. has indicated it has begun new risk assessments and will not be ready by May 13 to lift its ban. "We think we have a right to do risk assessments," Haniotis said, adding earlier assessments weren't concluded properly. "This is the only way for us to move into changing our legislation. We have to find the most proper way of doing that."

He said the E.U. has offered temporary compensation to U.S. cattle producers for lost exports and has proposed a labeling scheme that would allow E.U. consumers to know the origin of their beef. These proposals would prepare the E.U. and its consumers for a transition into an eventual change of policy on hormone-treated beef, he said. Haniotis said U.S. officials haven't been amenable to the labeling idea.

"I have never really understood what the problem of labeling is," he said. The E.U. labeling proposal isn't an effort to "impose problems on trade, but because we want to enhance trade," he said. Haniotis also noted the E.U. hasn't just banned imports of U.S. beef, but that of other world producers who use hormones to enhance cattle growth, adding that the E.U. has banned its own producers from using the hormones.

Nevertheless, about 95% of all U.S. cattle producers use hormones in cattle production. And U.S. officials have estimated the E.U. ban has blocked anywhere from $100 million to $250 million in exports to the E.U.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Switzerland--the past and the present.

Rev Sci Tech 1999 Apr;18(1):135-44 
Heim D, Kihm U
Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, Liebefeld, Switzerland. 
The first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Switzerland was diagnosed in November 1990, although the risk factors identified in the United Kingdom were not all present in Switzerland. At 29 December 1998, a total of 282 BSE cases (all animals born in Switzerland), had been recorded. The number of cases is declining, with fourteen cases diagnosed in 1998 (at 29 December 1998). The measures taken are effective. However, the potential weakness in current activities that allow the disease to exist are being evaluated. Further measures to avoid even minimal risk for human and animal health will be taken if required. Experience gained from the past indicates that it is necessary to review the situation constantly and to inform the public and professionals regularly and in a transparent manner.

Belgium finds eighth case of mad cow disease

Reuters World Report Mon, Apr 12, 1999
BRUSSELS - Belgian Agriculture Minister Karel Pinxten on Monday said a new case of mad cow disease had been found in Belgium, the first of 1999, bringing the country's total to eight. A cow at a dairy in Lontzen in southern Belgium was confirmed last Thursday to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The infected cow and the 161 others at the dairy were destroyed, the ministry said in a statement.

The dairy's veterinarian had alerted the Agriculture Ministry on March 26 of suspicions that the cow, which was born in April 1990, was infected with BSE. The diagnosis was confirmed following three different tests. The Agriculture Ministry said the European Commission and the International Office of Epizoology had been notified. It said a study on the origin of the cow's infection is under way.

After 'Mad Cow' Scare, Uganda to Resume Importing

 Fri, Apr 16, 1999 COMTEX Newswir
Kampala - Uganda will soon resume importing cattle products, including semen, with the lifting of a ban imposed in the wake of the Mad Cow Disease scare. The selective lifting of the 1997 ban was recommended by a National Task Force comprised of veterinary experts and also covers importation of live cattle, minced meat and sausages.

Dr Kezimbira Muyingo, who was replaced as Minister of State in Charge of Animal Industry last Tuesday, said the Ugandan cabinet is expected to adopt the recommendation this week. Local businessmen and farmers had complained that the ban was unjustified.

"Uganda is the only country in the world which a total ban on importation of beef products in any form. There has not been a single case of Mad Cow Disease in Africa," the Uganda Importers and Exporters Association said in a statement.

Mad Cow Disease, known scientifically as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), affects the animal's nervous system, damaging the brain. It is infectious to human beings and has no cure. The disease hit beef-exporting countries in Western Europe, particularly Britain, in 1996.

However, most semen for export is stored for over 15 years in liquid nitrogen at temperatures below -200 degrees Celsius so the risk of importing contaminated stocks is minimal. Prior to the ban, Uganda imported about 20,000 straws - measures used during service of an animal - of semen per annum.

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