- MADRID (Reuters) - Spain
confirmed its second mad cow case on Thursday amid rising consumer concern
about the disease which has surfaced in four European countries.
- Two weeks ago Spain detected a first cow suffering from
bovine spongiform encephalopathy in northwestern Galicia region. The finding
coincided with Germany's first BSE case and news that tainted beef may
have reached French supermarkets.
- The human form of the brain-wasting disease -- believed
to be spread by eating contaminated beef -- has killed more than 80 people
in Britain and two in France since 1996.
- When Spain's first case emerged last month, officials
said they awaiting results of a suspected second case in Galicia, which
was confirmed on Thursday.
- ``This case presented lots of doubts but the final report
indicates that it is a case of the disease,'' Agriculture Minister Miguel
Arias Canete told a news conference.
- Spanish appetite for beef has slumped since news of the
country's first mad cow case broke, with sales down 50 percent over the
past two weeks, according to a survey by a national consumer group.
- The affected cows were from separate herds in different
provinces of the Galicia region. In all, some 83 cattle from Galicia, many
from the two herds affected, have also been tested and all were found negative.
- ``We can take it as a positive sign that the other cattle
weren't affected,'' Arias said.
- News reports say 46 cattle farms in Galicia have been
quarantined as officials attempt to halt the spread of BSE.
- The Organization of Small Farmers said it was worried
about the risk of further cases and accused the government of failing to
take quick action.
- ``This news came as no surprise to us,'' Fernando Moraleda,
General Secretary of the group told Reuters. ``Spain was a country at risk
but it failed to implement enough preventive measures to keep the disease
- ``Elvira'' And Herd Destroyed
- The latest case involved a cow whose pregnant grandmother
was imported from Austria in 1987. The animal, named Elvira, was born in
Spain in 1995 and was destroyed along with the 82 other tested animals,
- The previous case was of a cow born in Spain of Dutch
origin, Arias said.
- Scientists believe mad cow disease is transmitted through
contaminated animal-based feed, but others say predisposition to BSE might
be passed genetically.
- On Monday, the 15 European Union countries decided to
impose a blanket ban on using meat and bone meal in animal feeds.
- Plans to provide financial support to affected farmers
in Spain would be decided after the European Union clarifies how it will
deal with the problem, Arias added.
- But Moraleda pushed for state assistance for Spanish
farmers struggling for their livelihoods.
- ``The small farmers are the victims of the outbreak.
They are suffering most,'' he said.
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