- PARIS (Reuters) - Four herds
of cattle were destroyed in France after the discovery of two new cases
of mad cow disease, the Farm Ministry said on Monday.
- The discovery of two more afflicted animals brought to
23 the number of cases of the fatal, brain-wasting disease bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE) reported in France this year.
- France now looks set to exceed the 30 cases that were
discovered in 1999. One hundred and three cases of BSE have been reported
in France since the epidemic was first detected in 1991.
- The ministry said in a statement the infected animals
were dairy cows born in October 1993 in the Ille-et-Villaine region and
in August 1994 in the Vendee. Both animals were destroyed, in accordance
with French law, as were four herds in which the cattle had lived. In all,
296 animals were slaughtered.
- The ministry last month began testing 48,000 French cattle
for BSE in a bid to measure the extent of the epidemic among its 21 million
- France remains locked in a legal battle with the European
Commission over its refusal to lift a ban on imports of British beef because
of fears it is not entirely free from BSE.
- Britain has reported more than 176,800 cases of BSE,
making the French epidemic look small by comparison. But while the number
of BSE cases in Britain is falling, the French outbreak is widening despite
measures introduced almost a decade ago to combat the spread of BSE through
contaminated animal feed.
- France introduced tougher controls on cattle feed in
1996 and originally predicted that BSE cases would taper off in 2001, given
that the disease was thought to have a five-year incubation period. The
government has recently stopped forecasting when it expects the epidemic
to die out.
- Many scientists believe BSE-infected meat products cause
a new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a similar fatal brain-wasting
disease that has killed more than 50 people in Britain.
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