Cows In Tokyo, Aichi Areas
Test Positive For BSE

Preliminary tests showed that three or four cows screened in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture indicated the presence of mad cow disease, and a second test was being conducted to confirm the initial results, authorities said Friday.
Should the animals test positive in the second round of testing -- whose results are expected as early as today -- a third and final test will be conducted by a group of experts from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, as stipulated under new nationwide screening procedures introduced Thursday.
Of the cows in question, two were checked at the Tokyo Central Meat Wholesale Market and are being tested at an inspection center in Yokohama, while the other one or two are being tested again in Kobe.
All domestic cows slaughtered for human consumption are now undergoing checks for the brain-wasting illness, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in the wake of the discovery of the nation's first animal with the disease -- a dairy cow on a farm in Chiba Prefecture -- in late September.
Local testing centers continued to report mixed results on the safety of domestic beef after the launch of the new system.
The city of Yokohama said seven cows that tested positive for mad cow disease the previous evening were all found negative in a second test.
Followup tests on nine cows in Chiba Prefecture that could not be confirmed negative in initial tests also showed they were not infected with the brain-wasting disease, prefectural officials said.
According to government officials, the first test conducted on the cows -- called the Elisa method -- is less reliable than other methods, but it is used because results can be obtained relatively quickly.
The second test, the Western Blot method, is more definitive but takes more time, experts say.
Government authorities are now testing all of the roughly 1.3 million cows slaughtered each year for human consumption at 117 meat hygiene inspection centers across the nation.
A total of 796 cows had tested negative as of 6 p.m. Thursday in preliminary checks for mad cow disease conducted by 68 local governments, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
A further 208 cows were announced negative as of 8 p.m. in preliminary checks by 13 local governments that released results independently of the ministry.
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