Published Date: 2002-03-03 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> BSE - update (03) Mar 2002
Archive Number: 20020303.3671
BSE - UPDATE (03) Mar 2002
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
BSE update Jan 2002 20020130.3437
BSE update (02) Feb 2002 20020222.3610
Date: 2 Mar 2002
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com
Source: AP Online, 26 Feb 2002 [edited
BSE press release, Health and Human Services Public affairs Release No
US: Enforcement of Mad Cow Rules Lax
WASHINGTON: Mad cow disease or BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy)
could slip into the country and infect cattle herds because of
weaknesses in import controls and lax enforcement of animal feed
rules, congressional investigators warned.
The government bans the import of meat and livestock from countries
where BSE has been found, and prohibits the feeding of meat and bone
meal (MBM) to U.S. cattle.
But a report issued by the General Accounting Office (GAO) says the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to take action against feed
mills and other firms violating rules associated with the feed ban
and has never identified all the businesses to be inspected.
Moreover, FDA's database of inspection records "is so severely
flawed" that "it should not be used to assess compliance", the
Their report says imports of meat and other products that can carry
the disease could be entering the country through mail or cargo due
to mislabeled shipments and a shortage of inspectors.
"The continuing absence of BSE in the United States today cannot be
sufficiently ensured by current federal prevention efforts", the
BSE is linked to a brain-wasting disease in humans and has killed
about 100 people in Europe. The disease is believed to spread through
eating brain or nerve tissue from infected animals.
FDA outlawed the feeding of mammalian MBM to cattle, sheep and goats
in 1997 and imposed a series of rules on record keeping, labeling and
handling of feed. Agency officials said they have increased their
inspections of firms violating the rules and are replacing the
agency's record keeping system this spring.
The feed ban "has received widespread support in all aspects of the
animal feed industry and the meat industry. They all recognize what
the implications are for noncompliance", said Murray Lumpkin, senior
associate commissioner at FDA.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said the GAO didn't take into
account actions the administration was taking to prevent BSE,
including the hiring of additional inspectors. "We will remain
steadfast in our efforts to prevent BSE from entering the country".
A Harvard University study last year said it was "extremely unlikely"
BSE could ever take hold in US herds, mainly because of the feed ban.
However, the researchers said there are additional steps that would
significantly reduce the risk to cattle and human health even more,
including more restrictions on animal feed and meat processing.
Food companies became concerned about compliance with the feed ban
and last year began requiring meat processors to certify the cattle
were not given prohibited feed. Slaughterhouses, in turn, started
requiring similar paperwork from their cattle suppliers.
As of last October, FDA had inspected 10 576 firms and found 364 out
of compliance with the feed rules. In some cases, firms that broke
the rules have not been inspected again for a year or more, the GAO
report said. FDA is now inspecting those firms at least once every 6
months, Lumpkin said.
The report also said that the Agriculture Department needs to
increase its testing of cattle for the disease, particularly for
animals that die while still on a farm. The department plans to
increase its testing from 5000 to 12 500 cattle a year. USDA also is
considering banning the sale of brains and certain types of beef from
cattle considered at risk for getting the illness.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., plans to introduce legislation to
tighten federal regulation of animal feed and meat processing. He
requested the GAO report along with Senate Agriculture Committee
Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa and the panel's ranking Republican,
Richard Lugar of Indiana. "It has become clear through the
experiences of European countries and through GAO's investigation BSE
disease presents a threat to public health in this country", Durbin
Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, said the GAO
report "misinterprets, or simply ignores the effectiveness of
measures already taken" by the government.
Further information is available at:
Government's food safety site: <http://www.foodsafety.gov
Date: 2 Mar 2002
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Victoria Times, 26 Feb 2002 [edited
Danish-born Water Buffalo Must be Destroyed
The Archers' quest to save their herd of water buffalo from
government-ordered destruction has ended in a compromise agreement
with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The CFIA ordered the water buffalo destroyed because of an outbreak
of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad-cow disease) in
Denmark, where the first members of the herd originated. As early as
this week, the process of killing the original 18 water buffalo
imported by the Archers in January 2000 will begin.
Thirty animals born in Canada will remain in quarantine on the
Archer's Cowichan Valley farm, and will be spared if none of the
original herd tests positive for BSE. At present, testing is possible
only on dead animals. "Any positive test will result in the
destruction of all of the water buffalo currently on the farm," the
CFIA's Bill Anderson said.
Mrs. Archer expressed mixed emotions Monday following a meeting with
Anderson and other CFIA officials in Victoria. "We're happy to move
on," she said. "We're certainly not happy with the conclusion because
it means that all the imported animals are going to be destroyed, and
we haven't come across any evidence that would say that there was
anything wrong with them."
"Unfortunately, we haven't come through with the conclusion we
wanted, but I think in time maybe we have made a giant step forward
to working with the federal government and Canadian Food Inspection
The buffalo will be destroyed over the course of the next 6 months.
That is because the CFIA decided females about to give birth will be
allowed to live until their offspring is at least 5 months old.
The Archers will be paid $4000 for each animal that is destroyed. It
is the maximum allowed under terms of the Health of Animals Act, but
only about one-third of what the animals are actually worth.
Anderson said he considered a wide range of information in making his
decision on what would happen to the water buffalo, including input
from the Archers. Ultimately, the imported animals "continue to
present an unacceptable risk to Canada for the introduction of BSE
into our country," he said.
While there has never been a recorded case of BSE in water buffalo,
Anderson said, "there has been a number of cases of BSE reported in
other exotic ruminants that are far more genealogically removed from
cattle than are water buffalo. "In the risk assessment, the
conclusion that I drew was it would be imprudent not to assume water
buffalo could be a susceptible species to this disease."
The animals will be destroyed at a CFIA-approved facility, possibly
the Animal Diseases Research Institute in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Date: 04 Mar 2002
From: Marjorie P. Pollack <email@example.com
Source: Xinhua News Agency
Spain Finds 103 Mad Cow Cases Over Two Years
MADRID: Spain has found another four cases of mad cow disease,
bringing its infection total to 103 in the past two years,
agricultural authorities said Thursday.
The authorities found the four new cases of the disease,
scientifically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), when
making sample tests on farms in the northern province of La Coruna,
and central Avila province, said the authorities. The infected cattle
have been cremated.
Spain has carried out sample tests on around 427 000 head of cattle
since the first mad cow case was found in northwestern Lugo province
in November 2000, and 103 positive cases have since shown up.
Beef remains the most favored meat for the Spanish people and tops the
consumption of all meat in the country though concern over the
disease led to a drop in beef consumption and bigger pork and chicken
market shares last year, said local reports.
Date: 02 Mar 2002
Source: The Guardian, 26 Feb 2002 [edited
Government Scientist Blames Contaminated Cattle Feed Imports for Latest BSE
The continuing cases of BSE which have baffled scientists and caused
serious concern to the government hoping for an end to the epidemic
started a row yesterday when one of the government's chief vets
blamed contaminated cattle feed imports.
With cases still running at two a day there is increasing concern
about 13 cases in cattle born after the ban on feed was tightened in
1996 -- a move the government claimed at the time would eliminate the
disease. There have been increasing fears that mothers could pass on
the disease to their calves.
John Wilesmith, from the veterinary laboratories agency, made his
statement about imported feed after revealing that seven years of
government research, about to be published, showed that calves of
infected bulls and cows did not catch BSE. In practice maternal
transmission of the disease did not happen, he said.
As a result he was now convinced the only way cows get the disease
was through eating food contaminated with meat and bone meal, and as
it was banned from use in this country it must be from imported feed
The Grain and Feed Trade Association, which imports animal feed, was
incensed. Pamela Kirby Johnson, director general said: "As a
scientist he should not make assertions based on conjecture and
unproved hypothesis. "It is an easy shot to have a go at imports. We
simply do not import this stuff and to suggest there can be some kind
of cross contamination in the hold of a ship is stretching credulity
to it limits."
Professor Wilesmith told BBC's Farming Today that embryos were taken
from BSE affected cows and some as a result of fertilization with
semen from BSE affected bulls.
None of the calves developed BSE nor did their surrogate mothers. The
offspring and their mothers were allowed to live until aged seven and
all had their brains examined and all were free of the disease. "If
maternal transmission occurs we have no idea how... everything that
has been looked at in terms of excretions and secretions from cows
have all proved negative."
The BSE epidemic was blamed on the practice of feeding meat and bone
meal from infected carcasses back to cattle. Asked if feed still
could be the cause of the infection even after successive tightening
of controls, Prof Wilesmith said: "My working hypothesis is that we
are actually still dealing with cross contamination, but probably not
from a British source. I think the concern at the moment that we have
is cross contamination of feedstuffs which have been imported into
Britain and so there is still a possibility that one could get cross
contamination in the holds of ships and so on because meat and bone
meal has been traded around the world. And we know that a certain
number of countries actually do have it. "In the main when one takes
away this food-borne source, then the disease goes away".
Ms Kirby Johnson said: "We import vegetable protein products in
dedicated ships which are anyway cleansed after each shipment. We
have not imported meat and bonemeal since it was banned in 1988.
Cross contamination from imports is not a practical suggestion. If he
wants to know the cause of current cases of BSE he should look
[Byline: Paul Brown
[At least 14 cases of BSE have been diagnosed in the UK in animals
born after 1 Aug 1996, when extra control measures on animal feed
containing mammalian meat and bone meal (MMBM) were considered to
have been fully implemented. Such cases are discovered under the
current compulsory testing program of all cattle born between 1 Aug
1996 and 31 July 1997 and submitted for slaughter under the Over
Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS).
According to Defra's information, 6 of the cases were thoroughly
investigated until 27 Feb 2002 (the reader is referred to
>). As the report
further says, in 5 cases, maternal transmission could be ruled out:
"Environmental contamination remains a theoretical risk as home
produced manure was spread on the affected premises as a fertilizer.
The possibility of milk replacer being implicated has also been
considered. However,this seems unlikely: 3 cases received whole milk
only; 1 case had milk replacer containing only vegetable protein. In
addition, information from feed manufacturers suggests that tallow is
not used in calf milk replacer in the UK. We are continuing to
investigate possible cross-contamination of imported vegetable
protein as all of the rations fed to these 6 cases are known to have
contained imported ingredients.
"In summary,therefore, no firm conclusions can be drawn as to the
source of infection in these cases. Although extensive investigations
continue into all such cases,it may never be possible to establish
precisely how individual animals became infected. It is difficult to
establish the precise source of infection after a time lapse of over
5 years." - Mos. AS
ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that
are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
Visit ProMED-mail's web site at <http://www.promedmail.org
Send all items for posting to: firstname.lastname@example.org
(NOT to an individual moderator). If you do not give your
full name and affiliation, it may not be posted. Send
commands to subscribe/unsubscribe, get archives, help,
etc. to: email@example.com
. For assistance from a
human being send mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org