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Corvallis, OR, United States
My personal obsession with prion diseases with smidges of music I like and rescue dog advocacy from a disabled Oregonian.


Song in my head: Who is Mr Brown?... I wanna know now!....He is nowhere to be found.....Bob Marley

MAD COW NEWS, part two

Portugal on Friday was cited as announcing on Friday its first suspected case of the human form of mad-cow disease while France said it had identified its 13th case of the degenerative brain ailment. A total of 177 people have died or been diagnosed with vCJD, according to a toll compiled by AFP from official figures. So far 150 people have died of vCJD in Britain, where another six people are still alive who have contracted the disease, according to figures posted on Friday on the official British vCJD website. -LINK-

June 10, 2005Canadian Cattlemen's Association - News ReleaseThe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has strongly reconfirmed its intention to re-open the U.S. border to under 30 month feeder and slaughter cattle from Canada, as permitted under the USDA minimal risk rule. Implementation of that rule is delayed by a preliminary injunction issued in U.S. District Court, Montana Division.USDA reconfirmed its position at a U.S. Industry Roundtable convened by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, where panelists representing all sectors of the U.S. beef industry spoke in favour of re-opening the border and emphasized the safety of both U.S. and Canadian beef. Only two panel members, representing R-CALF and the National Farmers Union, argued for keeping the border closed. -LINK-

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns was cited as saying Friday that the government is checking a possible case of mad cow disease in the United States in an animal previously cleared of being infected, emphasizing that the animal did not enter the food supply.The stories eexplain that only one case of mad cow disease has been confirmed in the United States, in a dairy cow in Washington state in December 2003. Since then, preliminary tests have indicated the existence of the disease in three cows, but further testing had ruled out any infection. -LINK-

Yesterday evening at 9:00 p.m. eastern time, USDA held a media briefing on BSE. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns reminded participants that during the course of the enhanced BSE surveillance program to date, three BSE rapid tests resulted in an inconclusive result. Each of these tests was followed by a confirmatory immunohistochemistry (IHC) test; each IHC was negative. -LINK-

The U.S. Agriculture Department was cited as saying on Monday that an animal suspected of having mad cow disease was born before the implementation of the 1997 feed ban that prohibits cattle remains in animal feed, adding, "It is significant to note that this animal was born prior to the implementation of the 1997 feed ban -- another example our safeguards are working. -LINK-

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens was cited as telling the Western Governors' Association meeting Monday that it is "hypocrisy" for the United States to pressure Japan to lift a ban on U.S. beef over mad cow concerns while banning Canadian beef for the same reason, adding, "It's this sort of hypocrisy that makes it very difficult for the U.S. to win any sort of trade war."Owens and other governors were cited as saying the U.S. action is encouraging Canada to build its own meatpacking plants, instead of relying on plants south of its border, and taking away jobs in Western states.Alberta Premier Ralph Klein was quoted as saying, "It's time for this nonsense to stop," adding that animals have been crossing the Canadian-U.S. border for years without problems and that the ban is hurting both countries.Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns was cited as telling the governors that public reaction was mild after additional tests performed on one of the three cows turned up positive last week, adding, "The fact is, the safeguards did work." -LINK-

Darcy Undseth, a senior veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, was cited as saying Monday that Canada has not had any uncertain results from cattle it has tested for mad cow disease, despite a handful of samples that were inconclusive during initial rapid screening tests.Undseth was further cited as saying that Canadian pathologists have used both of the detailed confirmatory tests at the heart of a U.S. controversy over testing methods for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, adding, "In Canada's case, the cases that have come through to date have been clearly positive or clearly negative, and the tests that we've run have been definitive at that level."The story explains that the U.S. Agriculture Department retested a brain tissue sample last week that it originally deemed last November as negative.The USDA first used immunohistochemistry, or IHC, long considered the "gold standard" around the world for determining whether an animal has mad cow disease.But when it retested the sample using a different technique called Western blot, a "weak positive" was found. More tests will now be run at the world reference laboratory in Weybridge, England, as well as in U.S. labs.Undseth was further cited as saying the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has "full confidence" in the U.S. system, said, noting Canada would also send samples to the Weybridge lab if it had inconclusive results.

A statement released Wednesday by USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong's office was cited as saying that auditors noticed "an unusual pattern of conflicting test results" while reviewing the government's program of testing for mad cow disease, and that was why she suddenly ordered new tests on brain tissue from a cow declared free of mad cow disease seven months ago.Beyond that, the statement said audit findings won't be released until late summer. -LINK-

According to this editorial, there is no denying that the case for reopening the American border to Canadian cattle would be strengthened if a Washington state cow currently suspected of having the disease tests positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Last March, when Montana federal judge Richard Cebull thwarted a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) attempt to reopen the border to live cattle from Canada, he gave as the reason for his injunction "the serious irreparable harm" from BSE infection "that will occur when Canadian cattle and meat enter the U.S. and co-mingle with the U.S. meat supply." The editorial says that Canadian cattle are no threat to the Americans or anyone else, and beginning this July higher courts in the U.S. are likely to overturn Judge Cebull's ruling based on sound science and Canada's high number of screening tests on slaughtered animals. Still, if the Americans were found to have their own home-grown cases of BSE, even Judge Cebull and the lobbyists supporting him would not have a hoof to stand on.

The United States Department of Agriculture confirmed that the first case of Mad Cow Disease in a US born animal has been detected. The animal has been confirmed to have BSE by tests at the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa and we await further confirmation by a lab in Great Britain. The animal was slaughtered last November and considered BSE free until the USDA’s Inspector General ordered further testing of brain samples because of discrepancies between an initial quick test and a later more comprehensive test that found the animal BSE free. Two other cattle that initially tested positive were also retested, but were not found to have BSE. The US Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johaans, at a news conference announcing the USDA results and at a meeting of Western Governors Association stated that this finding showed that the system was working to protect public health because the BSE infected animal did not enter human or animal food. What Secretary Johaans failed to mention was that the testing program we have in place is a sampling program, so for each animal detected there will be others that get through. The USDA is not even testing all high-risk animals let alone all cattle that are old enough to have the disease. Researchers at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis have indicated in a letter to the USDA that there will be more infected animals in the apparently healthy animal population than those in the high-risk group being tested. -LINK-

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns regarding the sample sent to Weybridge, England for further testing

We find ourselves in a situation where we have two internationally accepted tests that have produced conflicting results. I believe in this situation we have an obligation to be thorough. We've consulted with our top scientists at USDA and with internationally recognized experts to determine our best course in this unique case. We have agreed upon a protocol that includes additional testing both here at USDA and at an international reference laboratory in Weybridge, England. When we have all of the final results we will share them very publicly. "We know there is absolutely no risk to animal or human health related to this case. Our safeguards worked exactly as they were designed to work. Because they worked, we now have the opportunity to learn more about this sample, knowing it could advance the science behind our testing efforts." -LINK-

Gaps remain in U.S. defense Vs. mad cow

American cattle are, according to this story, eating chicken litter, cattle blood and restaurant leftovers that could help transmit mad cow disease -- a gap in the U.S. defense that the Bush administration promised to close nearly 18 months ago.John Stauber, an activist and co-author of, Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?, was quoted as saying, "Once the cameras were turned off and the media coverage dissipated, then it's been business as usual, no real reform, just keep feeding slaughterhouse waste. The entire U.S. policy is designed to protect the livestock industry's access to slaughterhouse waste as cheap feed." -LINK-

NCBA, others blast USDA over scattershot BSE policy

In a Friday meeting with Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, Jim McAdams, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association complained bitterly that USDA's scattershot approach to testing cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy has caused financial losses to cattle farmers that can "never be recovered."McAdams' public lashing of USDA was one of several last week, as a number of frequently divergent industry groups denounced the agency's public announcement that a suspect cow, thought months ago to be BSE-free, will now be retested using a method that the department had previously argued was unnecessary. (See 'November cow' tests positive for BSE using Western blot, ,, June 13, 2005.) That reversal has sparked a flurry of media activity questioning both the efficacy and consistency of USDA's testing protocols. -LINK-

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Austria

A BSE case was laboratory diagnosed in a cow from a small farm with 8 cattle and 2 pigs, located in Riezlern, Bregenz district, Vorarlberg federal province, in the western part of the country.The concerned cow was found dead on 26 May 2005. Before that, it showed movement disorders, with no improvement after correction of hooves. The owner led the movement disorders back to the age of the cow (born in 1994) and did not consult a veterinary. The head was held in a deep position and there were no disturbances in excretion and behaviour. Diagnostic tests used: rapid test (15 June 2005) and immunohistochemistry (21 June 2005). Both positive.Source of outbreak or origin of infection: unknown or inconclusive.Control measures After suspicion the farm was banned immediately.Culling and sampling of all cattle [sic]. -LINK-

First probable case of vCJD reported in Portugal

The Portuguese Direcção-Geral da Saúde (Directorate-Genearl for Health) was recently informed of the first probable case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in Portugal, with laboratory evidence (tonsil biopsy) [1]. The patient is 12 year old boy currently living with his parents and receiving specialist medical care. The case meets the European and Allied Countries Collaborative Study Group of CJD’s (EUROCJD) definition of probable vCJD ( and has been confirmed by the United Kingdom’s National CJD Surveillance Unit. The patient does not have a history of travel to the United Kingdom. -LINK-

Canada exceeds BSE testing target for 2005

Canada has surpassed its testing target established for 2005 for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance. The target for this year was 30,000 cattle and, as of June 17, there have been 32,363 samples collected and tested through the provincial and federal laboratory network in Canada. -LINK-

Second case of mad cow disease confirmed in U.S.

In related wire coverage, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns was quoted as saying at a news conference that, "I am encouraged that our interlocking safeguards are working exactly as intended. This animal was blocked from entering the food supply because of the firewalls we have in place. Americans have every reason to continue to be confident in the safety of our beef."The stories add that there's been no information to suggest the cow in the second case came from Canada and that officials said Friday an investigation of the animal's origin wasn't finished. -LINK-

More mad cow articles tomorrow....Want your McBSE with acrylamide fries?