Suspect mad cow tests negative

WASHINGTON, DC, August 4, 2005 (ENS): Test results came out negative in a cow suspected of having mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports.

In a statement Wednesday, John Clifford, deputy administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the negative results came from both the department's own laboratory in Iowa and an internationally recognized laboratory in England.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, has determined that the non-definitive test result reported on July 27 is negative for BSE," Clifford said. "Tests conducted by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, England, are also negative for BSE."

“Needless to say, we are very pleased with these results," Clifford said. "I do want to emphasize that the most important protections for human and animal health are our interlocking food-safety protocols. Our enhanced surveillance program is designed to provide information about the level of prevalence of BSE in the United States, which by any measure is extremely low."

Two confirmed cases of BSE have been discovered in the United States, one a Canadian-born cow in Washington state in 2003 and the other a cow in Texas in June 2005.

Prompting the two tests in the third suspected case were ambiguous results from an initial test for immunohistochemistry. Clifford said the department simply took "the prudent course" by having the additional tests conducted.

The tested cow died in April after giving birth, but USDA has not disclosed the location of the farm where the cow died. No test exists to check for BSE in live animals.

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