- LONDON -- Governments around
the world have been issued with guidelines to help contain the spread of
bovine spongiform encephalopathy better known as BSE or "mad cow disease"
and its human form, variant CJD.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a document
setting out measures that should be taken in order to protect people from
eating beef infected with BSE. The guidelines will be distributed to governments
and consumer associations.
- WHO recommends that even countries with no recorded cases
of the disease should look at the guidelines because of the long incubation
period of the illness, and the wide distribution of contaminated feed through
- The recommended measures include checking cattle feed
to make sure it does not contain protein from animal carcasses, regularly
screening cattle for BSE, slaughtering cattle at a young age to reduce
the risk of variant CJD transmission, and destroying the brain and spinal
cord, as well as rigorously enforcing safe slaughterhouse practices.
- The UK has recorded more than 180,000 cases of BSE since
it was first detected in 1986, and has introduced stringent controls on
meat processing to try and eliminate the disease from the food chain. But
since then, it has spread to a number of mainly European countries.
- Variant CJD was first detected in humans in 1996 and
was linked to the BSE epidemic in cattle. Scientists blamed the spread
of the disease to humans on the consumption of contaminated meat and other
food products from cattle.
- Since then, variant CJD has been linked to more than
100 human deaths most of them in the UK and has sparked fears of a future
- However, these fears have receded with the release of
latest UK surveillance figures, which show that confirmed new cases of
the disease have fallen from a high of 28 in 2000 to 17 in 2002.
- Bovine products considered safe to eat or use include
milk and milk products, as well as gelatin and collagen prepared exclusively
from hides and skins.
- © HMG Worldwide 2003 http://www.health-news.co.uk/