TOKYO, Japan, October 7, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- Reuters:
A cow identified by Japanese experts as having mad cow
disease has a new form of the ailment, farm minister
Yoshiyuki Kamei told reporters Tuesday.
Farm and health officials are puzzled over a Holstein
cow which the Health Ministry said Monday had tested
positive for mad cow disease, Japan's eighth case since
The ministry said Monday that the 23-month-old cow
in Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo, had an ``unusual''
form of the brain-wasting ailment, formally known as
bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Kamei told reporters: ``This is a new type of BSE,
and we need to talk to experts and study this case thoroughly
in order to get to the bottom of how it happened.''
Mad cow disease has been linked to variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob
Disease, which has killed more than 100 people in Europe,
although there have been no cases of the disease in
Ministry officials and experts told a news conference
on Monday that the abnormal proteins that cause BSE
found in the latest case appeared to be of a different
type than seen before. ``We will continue to carry out
tests at the slaughterhouse...and remove certain parts
in order to secure the safety of our food,'' Kamei said.
Government officials said tests will be made to try
to find out if this new type of BSE can be transmitted
to other animals and to discover how the cow was infected.
Monday's case was the first to be confirmed in Japan
in a cow less than two years old. The disease has an
incubation period of two to eight years.
Although BSE has been discovered before in cows of
under two years, many scientists believe young animals
and boneless cuts are unlikely to contain the abnormal
The previous seven confirmed cases of BSE in Japan
occurred in animals about five years old.
``Although there have been other cases of the disease
in cows of 20-21 months...it is certainly very rare,''
said Hideshi Michino, deputy director at the Health
The infected cow, which was slaughtered on September
29, will be incinerated.
Contamination route a mystery
Experts are puzzled how the infection occurred, since
the animal was born after Japan banned the use of meat-and-bone
meal (MBM) feed in October 2001. Experts consider the
feed the most likely route for the infections that occurred
Japan imposed a ban on the import, sale and use of
MBM as feed a month after it confirmed its first case
of mad cow disease, which was also Asia's first.
Investigators have long linked the disease to MBM made
from the bones and parts of infected cows.
Late last month a panel of ministry experts said in
a report that the most likely source of Japan's BSE
outbreaks was either cows imported from Britain in the
1980s or contaminated MBM from Italy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said it was
seeking more details of the latest BSE case in Japan,
which could affect a USDA plan to reopen U.S. borders
to shipments of live Canadian cattle under 30 months
The news from Japan contributed to a rise in cattle
prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, on concern
it could crimp beef and cattle shipments from Canada.
The first few BSE cases in Japan rocked the country's
food sector, hit the earnings of restaurants and meat
packers, and shook the public's faith in food safety
Shares in some food companies dipped in a knee-jerk
reaction to Monday's news of a possible new case of
mad cow disease in Japan.
But Nippon Meat Packers Inc, Japan's largest sausage
maker, was up Tuesday, recovering from its dip the previous
day. It closed up 1.56 percent at 1,175 yen.