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Epidemics expert not toldof BSE for six months

23 June 1998
Epidemics expert not told
of BSE for six months

THE Governments most senior expert on the control of epidemics in animals was not told of the existence of “mad cow” disease until six months after the disorder was first identified, the BSE inquiry was told.

    Read more on:
  • News

Epidemics expert not toldof BSE for six months

23 June 1998
Epidemics expert not told
of BSE for six months

THE Governments most senior expert on the control of epidemics in animals was not told of the existence of “mad cow” disease until six months after the disorder was first identified, the BSE inquiry was told.

J

    Read more on:
  • News

Epidemics expert not toldof BSE for six months

23 June 1998
Epidemics expert not told
of BSE for six months

THE Governments most senior expert on the control of epidemics in animals was not told of the existence of “mad cow” disease until six months after the disorder was first identified, the BSE inquiry was told.

John Wilesmith, head of epidemiology at the Central Veterinary Laboratory since 1986, said he had learned of the cattle brain disorder at a meeting with the laboratorys director in late May 1987.

Pathologists at the laboratory had confirmed the existence of BSE as a new disease the previous November, and had seen the first case of the disease a year before that, according to earlier witnesses at the inquiry.

Mr Wilesmith said that ideally he would have liked to have been consulted at an earlier stage.

By December 1987 he had identified meat and bonemeal in cattle feed as the most probable source of BSE infection. He suggested that a change between 1980 and 1982 in the methods used to process the feed by rendering plants could have allowed scrapie-contaminated material from sheep to remain infective when eaten by cattle.

Most scientists still accept that meat and bonemeal was the cause of BSE, but some now believe the disease always existed as a extremely rare and previously unnoticed disorder and was spread by feeding cattle remains back to cattle.

Documents released to the inquiry showed that farmers were extremely reluctant to accept the compulsory slaughter and destruction of BSE-infected cattle unless they were compensated by the Government.

  • The Times 23/06/98 page 4

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