USDA Confirms BSE Tests
On US Cows Found Identical
To Atypical Cases In France


A USDA official confirmed that the positive BSE tests in 2 U.S.-born cattle were indeed an "atypical" type of the disease.
A USDA spokesman acknowledged Friday, June 2, 2006 that positive BSE tests from 2 domestic-born cattle were from a rare strain of the disease found in a small number of European cases.
BSE, scientifically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy and commonly known as mad cow disease, is a degenerative, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle.
USDA officials have declined in the past to provide such details, but released information Friday after a French researcher revealed earlier this week that the cases in Texas last year 2005 and Alabama last spring 2006 were identical to "atypical" cases of BSE found in France.
Scientists from around the world are trying to quantify the significance of these rare cases. They also want to know whether these cases may be sporadic.
In an e-mail, a USDA spokesman said the cases raise "many unanswered questions about these unusual findings, and additional research is needed to help characterize the significance -- or lack of significance -- of any of these findings."
The USDA spokesperson said nothing in the test results of the 2 cattle justifies any changes in surveillance, disease control or public-health measures already being taken in the U.S.
Possible New Strain Of Mad Cow Disease Being Tracked
Farmers Weekly
Scientists across Europe and the United States are following the emergence of a new Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) in cattle that could be a new strain of BSE.
Speaking last weekend at an international conference on prion diseases in domestic livestock (such as BSE in cows and scrapie in sheep and goats), scientists from France and Italy described how the disease had been detected in a small number of cattle ranging from 5 to 15 years old.
The strain differs from BSE in that it has a longer incubation time and is consequently being found in older cattle.
The new strain also demonstrates different characteristics from BSE in laboratory tests and was originally detected through active surveillance of live animals rather than during inspection of a suspect fallen animal.
Marion Simmons of the Veterinary Laboratory Agency at Weybridge urged caution, saying there are not yet sufficient supporting data to suggest that the disease is a new strain of BSE.
From Terry Singeltary
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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