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Mad cow answers may take time

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Mar 2, 2005
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Mad cow answers may take time

Genetic tests needed to find diseased animal's herd of origin

08:38 PM CDT on Sunday, June 26, 2005

By KAREN ROBINSON-JACOBS / The Dallas Morning News

Consumers and the U.S. beef industry, hoping for answers in the nation's second confirmed mad cow case, may face a bit of a wait.

The case confirmed Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is more complicated than the 2003 Washington state case.

In November, when the diseased animal originally tested negative for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, parts of it were inadvertently mixed with parts of other animals being tested, a USDA spokesman said.

That made it difficult, after the positive test result came back, to determine the herd of origin.

"There was some question about which sample came from which animal," all of which were ultimately incinerated, spokesman Jim Rogers said.

"So we're in the process of doing some genetic testing to find a genetic match to the sample," he said. That process is almost done.

Determining the herd of origin will help investigators zero in on any herd mates, siblings or offspring for testing. That could take weeks, Mr. Rogers said.

It's of key concern in Texas, home to the nation's largest cattle herd. Speculation is rife that the animal had a Texas link.

In Friday's news conference, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns stressed that the animal never entered any food chain and that U.S. beef is safe.

Humans who eat meat from cows with BSE are at risk of developing a variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare, fatal degenerative brain disorder. Contaminated feed is the suspected cause of BSE.

The 2003 case involved a dairy cow imported to Washington state from Canada. The current case involves a beef cow, which are frequently sold. It is thought to be domestic and at least 8 years old.

Mr. Rogers said finding animals that may have come into contact with the infected animal involves following a paper trail.

"It would be nice to know what they know about the cow so far," said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union. "To me, 'We're not certain how long it will take' is not an acceptable answer."
The longer it takes to get the answers,the more it smells ,these answers should have been known months ago............good luck

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