Estonia Now Has Detected
Its First Case Of BSE

(Reuters) -- Estonian authorities have detected mad cow disease in a dead 11 year old cow after a routine test at a slaughterhouse, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday [24 Apr 2006]. If confirmed, it would be the country's 1st case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a disease that destroys the brains of cattle.
"The rapid test needs to be confirmed with a positive test for BSE and the results from that test will be out on Wednesday," Ago Partel, director of the Veterinary and Food Authority, told Reuters. The cow was from a farm in Jogevamaa county, south eastern Estonia, the Agriculture Ministry Press office said. [See Jogeva in the map at].
BSE was discovered in Britain in 1986 and devastated the country's beef industry. Individual cases of BSE have recently been found in cows in Japan, Canada, and the United States. More than 160 people have died from the human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, believed to be contracted by eating meat from infected cattle.
The discovery of a BSE case in Estonia should not be surprising; in fact, it was anticipated according to the Opinion of EU's Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) on the GBR (Geographical Risk of BSE) in Estonia. The said opinion, adopted by the SSC on 10 Apr 2003, includes the following statement:
"The BSE-agent may have reached the territory of Estonia before its independence in 1991. Since 1995 significant amounts of MBM were imported from BSE risk countries. A significant risk that BSE infectivity entered processing therefore exists since some years, at the latest since 2000, when domestic cattle potentially exposed to contaminated imported MBM around 1995, could have entered processing while approaching the end of the incubation period. Given the instability of the system, this could have lead to BSE cases.
"It is concluded that it is likely but not confirmed that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent (GBR III)."
Official confirmation of the case is anticipated. If confirmed, Estonia will become the world's 26th BSE country. The number of cases in the other 25 countries, between 1989 and 2006, may be seen at The case in Croatia, suspected in Feb 2006 (see 20060217.0521), remains unconfirmed. - Mod.AS
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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