German Health Chief Demands
Mad Cow/Scrapie Sheep Tests
The head of Germany's national disease control agency is calling for testing the country's sheep for possible variants of mad cow disease, according to a newspaper report..
Reinhard Kurth, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said both cattle and sheep had been exposed to the same animal feed that could have contained meat and bone meal, believed to be the main way that mad cow disease spreads. He told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag: "There is absolutely no basis to assume that sheep are immune to this disease."
He said, however, that since 1963 in Germany there had only been nine cases in sheep of scrapie, a centuries-old illness that is similar to mad cow disease. Still, Kurth said the unknown number of cases are "definitely very, very high." He said: "That means that inspection is miserably bad."
Mr Kurth also cautioned of the danger of blood donations helping the spread of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease that is believed to be contracted by eating infected beef.
Germany recorded its first case of mad cow disease last month and the numbers of infected cattle are growing. Other European countries have started pulling German beef products off shelves and banning imports.

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