- The BSE epidemic in Britain is expected to die out by
the year 2007, according to an independent assessment of the spread of
the disease by Swiss scientists.
- Their predictions support the government's assertion
of a steadily decreasing trend, assuming that a ban on feeding the most
risky parts of cattle or sheep back to cows is being rigorously observed.
- Researchers at the Institute of Animal Neurology at Bern
University and the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office suggest there may only
be isolated cases of BSE after 2007, 21 years after the disease was first
identified and possibly more than three decades after it began on an unnoticed
- The estimates do not take into account the unproven theory
that cows may have given the disease to their calves but the unpublished
work, reported by the EU's scientific steering committee, offers a real
prospect of Britain emerging from the crisis. Hundreds of suspect BSE cases
are still being slaughtered - 2,250 cases were confirmed in Britain last
year. The total of confirmed BSE deaths among cattle - 176,600 - dwarfs
other countries, including Ireland at 466, Portugal 371 and Switzerland
- EU scientists have accepted that Britain was entitled
to lift its beef-on-the-bone ban but are likely to insist many anti-BSE
controls remain in place. They and the commissioner responsible for BSE,
David Byrne, want more countries, even those currently without BSE, to
adopt similar measures because of the risks to consumers through imported
food. In Britain 55 people have died from the human form of BSE, variant
CJD, and another 12 are thought to be fatally ill.
- Meanwhile in France, where entire herds are slaughtered
if BSE is found, there is mounting concern over the possible length of
the BSE problems, which started in 1991. The recently established food
safety agency, which provided the information which convinced Paris to
maintain its ban on British beef exports, believes the disease will not
be eradicated in France before 2010.
- One person has died from variant CJD and there are two
other suspect cases. So far 94 cattle have been confirmed as BSE-related
- Although the feeding of cattle with bone waste has been
banned in France for six years, feed can still be given to pigs and poultry,
raising the possibility of careless handling as a source of infection.
But the agriculture minister, Jean Glavany, says a third way other than
feed and cow to calf transmission may be the cause. So far, scientists
have ruled out this possibility and health inspectors are concentrating
on possible malpractice over feed..
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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