Mad Cow May Have
Spread Worldwide -
World Health Organization
Note - We have been saying this for over two years. Perhaps
the WHO's statement will begin to shake the US government
and Centers For Disease Control out of their sleepwalk.
Jeff Rense
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (news - web sites) (WHO) on Friday expressed concern about what it called ``exposure worldwide'' to mad cow disease and its fatal human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).
The United Nations (news - web sites) health agency said it would convene a major meeting of experts and officials from all regions on the neuro-degenerative diseases striking cattle and humans. It will be held in Geneva in late spring, probably in May.
WHO officials spoke after an informal meeting of experts reviewed scientific evidence on a variety of issues amid growing consumer concern in countries including Germany and Canada.
Experts' concerns center on British meat and bone meal exports in the 10-year period between 1986, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE (news - web sites)) surfaced in Britain, and 1996, when an export ban was imposed on British beef. There are also wider concerns about European Union (news - web sites) exports.
``Our concern is that there was sufficient international trade in meat and bone meal and live cattle that there actually has been exposure worldwide already,'' Dr. Maura Ricketts, of WHO's animal and food-related public health risks division, told a news conference.
Since 1986, 180,000 BSE cases have been confirmed in British cattle, with 1,300 to 1,400 cases elsewhere in Europe -- all but several dozen cases in four countries (France, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland), according to WHO. Small numbers of cases have been reported in Canada, Argentina, Italy and Oman, but in each of these countries this was only in imported British bovine, it added.
In all, 87 cases of vCJD have been reported in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland, according to the agency.
``We know potentially contaminated materials were exported outside the European Community...We are trying to identify the countries that we should put our largest effort into,'' Ricketts said.
``The only way to know whether or not different countries are at risk is to ask them...These countries themselves have the information that is required to determine if they are at risk.
``We are concerned some countries which received materials do not have surveillance systems to detect the disease in animals or the human population,'' she added. ``Countries of the world need to be developing surveillance systems for these diseases.''
But Ricketts, a Canadian, conceded it would be difficult to trace exported beef and meat products, often repackaged or transformed before being re-exported with new labeling.
``It become very difficult, the trail grows cold,'' she said.
Extra Vigilance On Rendered Materials
Experts reviewed issues including: slaughterhouse practices; ''chronic low dose exposure'' of humans to BSE; mechanically-recovered meat which may contain infected nervous tissue; exposure of sheep and pigs to BSE; testing; and meat and bone meal.
``We thought we had to review how feed moves around the world because of the importance of cattle feed in the transmission of BSE,'' Ricketts said.
``We felt we had to review these tissues that are called 'specified risk materials' and include brains, eyes, the spinal column, parts of the gut find how these materials are being sold for human consumption.''
``We are very interested in the movement of 'rendered' materials around the world since it is quite possible that rendered materials contain infectivity,'' she added.

This Site Served by TheHostPros