Feds slaughter herd to quell mad cow fear

WASHINGTON, DC, January 9, 2004 (ENS): The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced plans to kill an additional 129 Washington state dairy cows that were quarantined after a cow from the same farm was found to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease.

Scientists believe some of the animals belonged to the same Alberta, Canada, birth herd as the BSE positive cow and "could have potentially been exposed to the same feed source," USDA Chief Veterinarian Ron DeHaven said during a telephone news conference today.

The remains of the cattle will be tested for BSE and no products from the cows will enter the human or animal food chains, he said.

USDA officials said Thursday that all 450 bull calves of the quarantined herd have been slaughtered. The herd included the offspring of the BSE positive cow, called the index cow.

USDA officials said the herd was slaughtered according to American Veterinary Medical Association humane guidelines on Tuesday. The carcasses were secured by the federal agency and disposed of by landfill on January 7, officials said.

None of the carcasses entered the human food supply chain or were rendered.

Officials also announced they have located another animal that came into the United States with the index cow.

This animal is also part of the dairy herd located in Mattawa, Washington, that is under a Washington State hold order.

Some 4,000 cattle in two herds remain in quarantine because of the concerns about mad cow disease.

The agency has 12 of the 82 cattle listed on the Canadian health certificate definitely accounted for and is continuing to try and trace back the origin and fate of the remaining animals.

The discovery of mad cow disease in the United States on December 23, 2003 has had stark repercussions for the $27 billion U.S. cattle industry. More than 30 countries, including Mexico, Japan and South Korea, banned U.S. beef imports following discovery of the BSE positive cow.

USDA officials say they are working closely with many of these nations to reassure them of the safety of U.S. beef.

Mad cow disease spreads from one animal to another by consumption of feed that has been contaminated by protein - such as blood or meat meal - from an infected animal.

Beef from infected cattle causes the human equivalent of mad cow disease, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, which is always fatal for humans.

Scientists do not believe the disease can be spread directly from cow to cow.

The infected cow was born in April 1997, some four months before the United States and Canada adopted a feed ban that prohibits the feeding of protein from cattle back to other cattle.


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