- BSE experts believe cattle continued to catch the disease
through contaminated soil long after the date that the government believed
- The research has raised fears that France and Germany
may extend their bans on the import of British beef unless further action
is taken to stop the spread of the disease.
- The government has insisted that the last cattle were
infected in August 1996, either through contaminated feed or, in a small
number of cases, from mother to calf.
- 'Third way' of infection
- But Dr Alan Dickenson, the founding director of the Neuropathogenisis
Unit in Edinburgh which researches BSE, warned that animals born after
August 1996 may have caught the disease a "third way", through
- He told BBC Radio Four's Farming Today programme that
his research showed cow pats excreted on to grazing land by cattle at the
height of the epidemic posed a "real risk" of infection.
- If cattle born after August 1996 caught BSE through infected
soil, the epidemic would last longer than the government predicted.
- However, the disease's five-year incubation period means
it will not be possible to tell whether Dr Dickenson is right until 2001.
- Microbiologist Dr Stephen Dealler told the programme
he feared the findings could lead to France and Germany extending their
bans on the import of British beef.
- He added that the future spread of BSE could be "drastically
reduced" if cattle and sheep were injected with the drug pentosan
- The compound, used in America to treat cystitis, has
been shown to drastically reduce BSE infectivity in laboratory mice, Dr
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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