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DEAD end IN TEXAS

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PORKER

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7/22/2005 6:00:00 AM

Tam Moore
Oregon Staff Writer

The 6-week-old reinvestigation of how a Brahma-cross cow got bovine spongiform encephalopathy hit an apparent dead end this week.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wrapped up testing of herd mates to the 12-year-old Texas cow July 12, leaving a feed source investigation to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA told Capital Press this week it had “nothing new” after dispatching investigators to East Texas in search of feed records that might indicate that as a calf the reactor cow was fed meat and bone meal as a protein supplement. Scientists believe rendered feed contaminated with the submicroscopic protein that causes BSE is the primary way the rare and fatal disease is contracted.

The USDA hasn’t publicly reported results of its field investigation since July 12. The USDA Internet site since has carried notations “nothing new to report.”

In Washington, D.C., on July 18, the National Research Council issued its long-awaited report on links between animal and public health. The conclusion: A single agency is probably the best way to protect the country.

Lonnie King, dean of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, heads the panel. The report notes that since the 2002 creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, animal disease monitoring is split among three Cabinet secretaries.

The committee said it continues study of the best way to deal with the issue. Consumer groups have suggested the government appoint a senior scientist who pulls together all animal health surveillance and safety measures.

In Texas, the Animal Health Commission rejected a Houston Chronicle demand for records that might indicate the ranch location and details of testing carried out since the BSE investigation reopened in early June.

“Because we are handling this matter in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture, there are a number of documents that have claims of being confidential under federal law,” wrote Gene Snelson, the commission’s attorney.

“We have notified our USDA that we have documents for which they may want to assert a privilege as being confidential and requesting their comments.”

In a related note, a state audit of the Animal Health Commission faulted record keeping and what was described as an outdated computer system. Texas has the largest number of cattle of any state in the Union.

The reactor cow died in November and was taken to a Waco pet food plant where brain tissues were taken for routine BSE testing as part of a massive USDA effort to determine the extent of the disease in the United States. The USDA National Veterinary Laboratory said the samples didn’t have BSE. When the agency inspector general ordered a retest, announced June 10, it showed a “weak positive” for BSE; the results were confirmed within two weeks through a half-dozen tests.

This is the first native-born BSE case in the United States. The previous case, in December 2003, came on a Canadian-born cow that had been sold to a dairy in Washington state. Including that cow, Canada has had four native-born BSE animals.

Reuters and the Houston Chronicle contributed to this report. Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail address is [email protected]
 

rkaiser

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This is the first native-born BSE case in the United States. The previous case, in December 2003, came on a Canadian-born cow that had been sold to a dairy in Washington state. Including that cow, Canada has had four native-born BSE animals.

And guess what - This makes 5 North American BSE cases which cannot be conclusively linked to feed transmission.

But we will continue to focus on infection and transmission because -- well just because.
:roll:
 

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