- Federal investigators increased to 81 the number of cattle
now roaming the U.S. that may have been exposed to mad-cow disease, Tuesday's
Wall Street Journal reported.
- Yet even the 81 figure isn't complete. Many of these
cattle presumably have given birth since entering the U.S., at least some
of which came in a group thought to include the Washington state Holstein
that was found last week to have been infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
otherwise known as BSE, or mad-cow disease. Previously, federal investigators
said 73 dairy cattle had come into the U.S. in August 2001 from the same
herd in Canada's Alberta provence that is thought to have been the original
home of the infected Holstein.
- Investigators hope to find and screen those cattle for
BSE, which creates holes in the brains of infected cattle. By eating contaminated
beef products, people can catch a similar form of the affliction, known
as variant Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease.
- The federal government's ability to quickly control the
fallout from the nation's first case of mad-cow disease is being complicated
by poor record keeping of cattle shipments and the inexperience of U.S.
officials, who never have had to deal with a mad-cow discovery, agricultural
- Indeed, a week into the federal government's search for
the source of this mad-cow case, investigators have just managed to confirm
the age of the infected cow at its slaughter -- 6 1/2 years -- which is
crucial to figuring how long ago it might have been infected. The mad-cow
disease can incubate silently for three to six years.
- U.S. officials said Monday that investigators still aren't
certain whether the infected cow came from Canada and have yet to recover
the vast majority of meat from the sick animal, which was slaughtered Dec.
9 at a small Moses Lake, Wash., meatpacker. Meat from the cow was mixed
with the meat of 19 other cattle killed at the plant that day and eventually
shipped to more than 40 businesses in eight states and Guam. Officials
believe most of the meat is in Oregon and Washington state.
- The lack of hard information is hurting the U.S.'s ability
to persuade about two dozen trade partners to lift the bans on U.S. beef
that they imposed after the mad-cow finding. A U.S. trade delegation sent
to Tokyo to reopen beef sales was immediately rebuffed Monday by Japanese
officials, who said the U.S. government doesn't yet have the facts Japan
needs to decide whether it is safe to drop the ban on U.S. beef imports.
- Trade experts believe that many of the nations that have
banned U.S. beef imports because of the mad-cow discovery won't make a
move until they see what is done by Japan, which is the biggest importer
of U.S. beef, spending roughly $ 1 billion annually.
- Wall Street Journal Staff Reporter Scott Kilman contributed
to this report.