UK Finds Mad Cow Disease
Infectivity In Cow Tonsil
Special To World

LONDON (Reuters) - New research shows that infectivity for the deadly mad cow disease is carried in bovine tonsils after it failed to show up in tests on cattle tonsil tissue using mice, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said.
New tests, considered to be 100 times more sensitive than those using mice, involve injecting a range of tissues from infected cattle into disease-free cows to determine if they carry infectivity, the Agency said in a statement posted on its Web Site on Friday.
Current anti-disease measures require all cow tonsils to be removed from meat intended for human consumption, but tonsil tissue can be found at the root of cow's tongues, which can enter the food chain.
"One out of five cows has gone down with BSE, 45 months after they were injected with tonsil tissue samples collected from the infected cattle," the agency said, according to preliminary results.
Britain, which first detected mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in herds in 1986, has been blamed for exporting the disease, which triggered consumer panic in other European countries over the spread of the disorder and its deadly human form, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).
More than 100 people, most in Britain, have died or are believed to be suffering from vCJD, which is thought to be caused by eating contaminated meat products.
The FSA said that a limited study of current practice had indicated that tonsil tissue does not appear to remain on tongues prepared for human consumption.
"The Agency plans to assess the way in which tongue is extracted, in particular to see whether any traces of tonsil tissue might be inadvertently included with tongue," FSA said.
The agency said the risk of BSE entering the food chain from UK cattle is low, as only cattle under 30 months-old can enter the food chain and no BSE case has been diagnosed in animals under this age in the UK since 1997.
"The latest report from Imperial College estimates that, in the year 2000, less than one animal close to developing disease would have entered the food chain," it added.
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