Mindfully.org  

Home | Air | Energy | Farm | Food | Genetic Engineering | Health | Industry | Nuclear | Pesticides | Plastic
Political | Sustainability | Technology | Water

Mad Cow Disease Suspected in Washington State

SANDI DOUGHTON / Seattle Times 23dec03

[Below: AP, Reuters, NY Times]

The United States' first probable case of mad cow disease was detected in a cow from a farm in Mabton, near Yakima, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said today.

Veneman said the nation's food supply remains safe, and that there is little risk to the public.

She also said the incident is not an act of terrorism.

The animal, a Holstein, was slaughtered in Washington this month. At least some of its meat was shipped to two processing plants in the state, Veneman said.

The farm has been quarantined, and inspectors are working to track down any meat from the infected animal.

"Even though the risk to human health is minimal, we will take all appropriate actions out of an abundance of caution," Veneman said.

Veneman said the animal was tested as part of routine, national surveillance program for mad cow infection. Two tests conducted at the USDA's national lab in Iowa were positive for mad cow disease. A U.S. military plane is flying additional samples to England for confirmatory tests.

Mad cow disease, known also as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a disease that eats holes in the brains of cattle. It sprang up in Britain in 1986 and spread through countries in Europe and Asia, prompting massive destruction of herds and decimating the European beef industry.

Mad cow disease has never been found in the United States before this incident despite intensive testing for it.

However, there was a case of mad cow disease in Canada last May that officials described as a single, isolated incident.

Veneman said the Agriculture Department has had safeguards in place since 1990 to check for mad cow disease and that 20,526 cows had been tested in 2003 in the United States.

"This is a clear indication that our surveillance and detection program is working," Veneman said.

She said U.S. beef remains "absolutely safe to eat," adding that she plans to serve it at her Christmas dinner Thursday.

The USDA will frequently update its Web site at www.usda.gov, and concerned consumer can call a hot line at 1-866-USDA-COM.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

source: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001821869_webmadcow23.html 23dec03


First-Ever U.S. Mad Cow Case Suspected

Gov't Says First-Ever U.S. Case of Mad Cow Disease Suspected in Single Cow in Washington State

AP 23dec03

WASHINGTON Dec. 23 — The first suspected case of mad cow disease in the United States has been discovered in Washington state, but officials took immediate action Tuesday to ensure the safety of American beef. "We remain confident in the safety of our food supply," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman told a hastily assembled news conference.

The announcement could have dramatic economic ramifications for the beef industry after earlier scares in Europe heightened consumers' fears that they could contract the disease from eating meat.

Veneman said a single Holstein cow that was either sick or injured thus never destined for the U.S. food supply tested presumptively positive for the brain-wasting illness.

"It is too early at this point to say whether or not this will be an isolated case," she said.

Mad cow disease, known also as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, eats holes in the brains of cattle. It sprang up in Britain in 1986 and spread through countries in Europe and Asia, prompting massive destruction of herds and decimating the European beef industry.

A human illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is related to mad cow disease and doctors believe humans get it from eating meat containing infected tissue.

It was not immediately known how this particular cow could have become infected. Scientists believe that the disease is usually transmitted when cattle eat feed containing tissue from a sick animal.

The Food and Drug Administration has banned such feed since 1997.

"This incident is not terrorist-related," Veneman said Tuesday. "I cannot stress this point strongly enough."

Veneman said the apparently diseased cow was found at a farm in Mabton, Wash., about 40 miles southeast of Yakima. She said the farm has been quarantined.

"Even though the risk to human health is minimal, we will take all appropriate actions out of an abundance of caution," she said.

Samples from the cow have been sent to Britain for confirmation of the preliminary mad cow finding, she said.

Mad cow disease has never been found in the United States before this incident despite intensive testing for it.

However, there was a case of mad cow disease in Canada last May that officials described as a single, isolated incident. That cow was suspected to have links to cattle in the United States, but there was never any evidence that the infection had spread into this country.

The United States originally banned imports of Canadian beef, as did other countries. The U.S. and Canadian governments are lobbying international regulators to change the policy of closing borders when mad cow is found so that trade can continue in the case of an isolated incident.

Veneman said a tissue sample from the suspect U.S. cow was taken on Dec. 9 and had been tested at a lab in Ames, Iowa.

She said the Agriculture Department has had safeguards in place since 1990 to check for mad cow disease, and 20,526 cows had been tested in 2003 in the United States.

"This is a clear indication that our surveillance and detection program is working," Veneman said.

She said U.S. beef remains "absolutely safe to eat," adding that she plans to serve it at her Christmas dinner Thursday.

The USDA will frequently update its Web site, and concerned consumer can call a hot line at 1-866-USDA-COM.


U.S. Discovers Its First Suspected Case of Mad Cow Disease

DAVID STOUT / NY Times 23dec03

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - The federal government said this evening that the first suspected case of so-called mad cow disease had been discovered in the United States.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said a single diseased Holstein cow was traced to a farm in Washington State about 40 miles southeast of Yakima. Earlier this year, Canada recorded its first case, in the western province of Alberta.

Ms. Veneman said that a single outbreak of the brain-wasting disease would represent almost no risk to people, but that it was announced out of ``an abundance of caution.'' People have died of the disease in Europe and Asia.

``We remain confident in the safety of our food supply,'' Ms. Veneman said. She emphasized that unlike foot-and-mouth disease, the mad cow affliction is not spread easily.

Ms. Veneman said Agriculture Department investigators were confident that no meat from the sick animal had entered the food supply, but that they were working with food processors in Washington State to be absolutely certain.

The sick cow was detected as part of the department's continuing surveillance program, she said. A sample taken on Dec. 9 was tested twice and came back as a ``presumptive positive,'' she said. A final test will be done at a laboratory in Britain, where the disease first sprang up, but Ms. Veneman said United States scientists are confident of their findings of mad cow disease.

Mad cow disease, known also as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a brain-wasting sickness that first occurred in Britain in the mid-1980's. It spread to Europe and Asia, causing huge losses in the beef industry and some loss of human life, although statistically the chances of a person dying are small.

But the outbreaks in other countries were calamitous to their beef industries, and Ms. Veneman tried to avert a similar reaction in the United States, particularly as millions of people prepare for Christmas dinner that often includes, on many tables, a standing rib roast.

``I plan to serve beef for my Christmas dinner,'' she said.

Ms. Veneman said that the Agriculture Department had safeguards in place since 1990 to check for mad cow disease and that 20,526 cows had been tested in 2003 in the United States. As for the Washington discovery, she said, ``This is a clear indication that our surveillance and detection program is working.''

On May 20, the corpse of an 8-year-old cow in Alberta was found with mad cow disease. Importation of Canadian beef, which accounts for 8 to 10 percent of American consumption, was stopped, sending American prices up for a time.

Ms. Veneman said further information would be posted on her agency's Web site: www.usda.gov.


U.S. Reports First Case of Mad Cow Disease

RANDY FABI & RICHARD COWAN / Reuters 23dec03

WASHINGTON—The first U.S. case of the deadly mad cow disease, which devastated parts of the European agriculture industry in the 1990s, was found in a sick animal in Washington state, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The announcement led to an immediate drop in the shares of fast food companies such as McDonald's, and analysts in Chicago predicted beef and grain prices would fall sharply.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said the disease was discovered in a Holstein cow in Washington state. The animal was a "downer," one that is too sick to walk, she said.

Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), has never been found in the United States before but devastated the British industry in the 1990s. Scientists believe humans can be infected with the brain-wasting disease by eating diseased meat.

The U.S. cattle industry has long feared an outbreak of mad cow disease, which could result in billions of dollars of losses.

"A single Holstein cow from Washington state was tested as presumptive positive for BSE or what is widely known as mad cow disease," Veneman said at a news conference.

"Even though the risk to human health is minimal, based on evidence, we will take all appropriate actions out of an abundance of caution," she said.

The diseased animal was tested for mad cow disease on Dec. 9. A tissue sample was being flown by U.S. military jet to an animal disease laboratory in England for additional confirmation, Veneman said.

The farm where the cow was found was quarantined, and the USDA will hold daily briefings on its investigation.

Veneman said she spoke with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "I would emphasize that based on the information available this incident is not terrorist related.

She also urged American consumers not to panic.

"I plan to serve meat for my Christmas dinner," Veneman added. "The risk to human health from BSE is extremely low."

On May 20, Canada confirmed that one Alberta cow, which was slaughtered in January, had mad cow disease. The disease has been widespread in Europe and has been linked to about 130 human deaths, mostly in Europe.

The discovery of the sick Canadian cow triggered an immediate halt of Canadian meat exports by most countries as a precaution.

Because of concerns over mad cow disease, the European Union in 1994 banned mammalian meat and bone meal from being used in cattle feed, but has allowed the products to be used in feed for other animals like chickens, pigs and fish.

A spokesman for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange had no immediate comment and did not know if the exchange would delay opening its Wednesday morning trading in the CME's cattle contract.


Mad cow disease found in US

Reuters (New Zealand) 24dec03

WASHINGTON—At least one confirmed case of the deadly mad cow disease has been found in an animal in Washington state, a US Agriculture Department official says.

Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), had previously not been found in the US, but it devastated the European cattle industry in the 1990s.

Scientists believe humans can be infected with the brain-wasting disease by eating diseased meat.

A USDA spokeswoman said today one case was being investigated, but declined further comment. A spokesman for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates futures trading, said the agency was told that the USDA had detected mad cow disease in Washington state.

One industry source, who declined to be identified, said a "downer" animal – one that is too sick to walk – was diagnosed with mad cow disease in Washington state.

The US cattle industry has long feared an outbreak of mad cow disease, which could result in billions of dollars of losses.

On May 20, Canada confirmed that one Alberta cow, which was slaughtered in January, had mad cow disease. The disease has been widespread in Europe and has been linked to about 130 human deaths, mostly in Britain.

The discovery of the sick Canadian cow triggered an immediate halt of Canadian meat exports by most countries as a precaution.

Because of concerns over mad cow disease, the European Union in 1994 banned the use of mammalian meat and bone meal in cattle feed, but it has allowed the products to be used in feed for other animals like chickens, pigs and fish.

 

To send us your comments, questions, and suggestions click here
The home page of this website is www.mindfully.org
Please see our Fair Use Notice