New Fears Mad Cow And
CJD May Be Spread By
Pork, Lamb, And Poultry
By Lee Krystek c. 1996
From Kim Burrafato <>

The Government is today attempting to dampen fears that sheep, pigs and poultry might be passing on BSE to humans after new research showed that it was theoretically possible.
The research raises the alarming possibility that other species such as pigs may be carrying a "silent" infection, without suffering any of the usual symptoms, and that the species barrier preventing infection is not as strong as originally thought.
However, the Government insists that it is far too early to say whether action needs to be taken, either to re-assess the safety of pork and poultry meat or to bring in new public health measures.
Instead, it has asked its medical advisers to consider the new findings at their next meeting on 29 September. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "This research has only been carried out in laboratory mice. It is far too early to make any leaps of faith over whether it has any impact over the safety of the food we are eating. There is no evidence of that here."
She added: "This is just an interesting piece of research about the way in which the disease works."
Professor John Collinge, leader of the St Mary's team and a world authority on the disease, warned that it had important public health implications. "This research raises the possibility, which has never been mentioned before, that apparently healthy cattle could harbour, but never show signs of, BSE," he said.
Professor Collinge, whose research was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also warned that there was a risk the disease could be contracted through medical and surgical procedures. People who ate meat and became infected might be free of symptoms but spread the infection if they had an operation and the surgical instruments were used on another patient.
Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said today: "This research is important because it shows that the species barrier is not as strong as we thought it was. The worry is that there are other ways into the human food chain for the infection."
However, food expert Professor Hugh Pennington, of Aberdeen University, said the experiments were "interesting, important, but not worrying". "They are really quite complicated and difficult experiments to interpret. It does not raise worries about public health.
"People have looked at poultry to see if they get this kind of disease and there is absolutely no evidence that they do. There is absolutely no evidence from poultry or pigs."
Variant CJD, which first emerged in 1996, is now known to be BSE in a human guise. A total of 79 cases of variant CJD have been recorded.

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