WHO Issues Mad Cow/CJD
World Control Guidelines
By Health Newswire reporters

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 international trade.
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 epidemic.
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



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