4 January 2002
New crackdown on BSE and scrapie

By FWi staff

THE government is stepping up efforts to detect BSE and scrapie under new rules which came into effect on 1 January.

Farmers are required to report casualty cattle and fallen stock between 24 and 30 months, which will then be tested.

The move is part of a European Union programme to test more cattle for BSE, sparked by increasing incidence of the disease on the Continent.

More than 50,000 casualty cattle and fallen stock over 30 months have already been tested since July 2001.

Scrapie testing in sheep is also being stepped up.

A sample of 3000 fallen sheep and 20,000 sheep slaughtered at abattoirs will be tested for the disease that scientists fear could be masking BSE.

Ministers are concerned that scrapie in sheep is under-reported and are desperate to get more accurate estimates of incidence.

The government is under pressure to improve surveillance after the fiasco in which scientists mistakenly tested cattle instead of sheep brains for BSE.