Second Japanese Mad Cow
Case Found

(AFP) - Japan's second case of mad cow disease was confirmed at a meeting of veterinary experts convened by the health ministry, a panel member said.
"Our final assessment is that it was a case of BSE," Shimpei Ozaki, head of the health ministry's food sanitation division, said referring to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.
The health, labor and welfare ministry said earlier it had found the second suspected case at a meat inspection center in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, during mandatory tests of slaughtered animals sparked by the discovery of the first BSE case in September.
The ministry said the second animal was a five-and-a-half year old Holstein dairy cow killed on November 19 and screened using the Elisa testing method the same day, showing positive for BSE.
A second analysis earlier Wednesday with the more accurate Western Blot test was also positive, the ministry said, prompting an examination of the findings by a health ministry research team for a definitive diagnosis.
Health minister Chikara Sakaguchi issued a statement immediately after the announcement in a bid to reassure the public that the government's safeguard measures were working effectively.
"This cow is due to be totally incinerated so that I hope you will feel secure," Sakaguchi said.
"We will continue to do everything possible, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to keep meat safe to be eaten and alleviate anxiety among the public."
Even before the panel of experts released their findings, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi seemed to accept that BSE was as good as confirmed.
"We must find out the cause and investigate the route of infection and do our utmost not to let rumours damage," Koizumi told reporters before Ozaki's announcement.
In September, the Japanese government announced that a Holstein dairy cow raised at a farm east of Tokyo, but born in Hokkaido, had tested positive for BSE, sending beef consumption plunging across the nation.
Nearly 60 percent of Japanese stopped eating beef after the first case of BSE was reported, according to a poll by the private Japan Research Center in October.
Mandatory screening of all slaughtered cows for BSE began in October and thousands of tons of meat from untested animals has been removed from the food chain.
Japan banned all sales of meat and bonemeal (MBM) products -- believed to be the transmission route for BSE infection -- on October 4 after admitting in September it could not guarantee that meal processed from the cow diagnosed with BSE had not re-entered the food chain.
The unidentified farmer who raised the cow was quoted by Jiji Press as saying he never fed meat and bone meal to the cows.
Since the first case of BSE was diagnosed in Japan, at least six countries -- the United States, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan -- have banned Japanese beef.
Copyright © 2001 AFP. All rights reserved.

This Site Served by TheHostPros