18 June 2001
Post-control BSE cases still low

By Alistair Driver

INCIDENCE of BSE in cattle born after strict controls were introduced is still below official predictions, despite confirmation of a second case.

BSE has been found in a Friesian cow from Somerset born on May 27, 1997, the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs has announced.

This was nearly 10 months after August 1, 1996, when the ban on meat and bonemeal in feed was significantly tightened.

It is the second time BSE has been confirmed in a cow born after that date, the DEFRA said. The first was in a Holstein cow from Dorset in 2000.

DEFRA has pointed out that government experts predicted there would be 17 cases of BSE in cattle born after Aug 1 1996 between 1999 and the end of this year.

With only two officially recorded cases so far, it appears unlikely that this figure appears will be reached.

The State Veterinary Service is investigating how the animal became infected. One possible source is that it received infected feed despite the ban.

Another possibility is that the disease was passed on the cows mother, although the animal believed to be its mother, born in 1989, is still alive.

The government has played down the significance of the case.

The Food Standards Agency said there were no human health implications as the cow, slaughtered at 48 months, would not have entered the food chain anyway.

Animal Health Minister Elliot Morley said: “We do not yet know the epidemiological significance of this case but the independent Food Standards Agency advise that there are no implications for food safety.

“It does not change in any way our view that we have the toughest rules in place to protect public health and to eradicate the disease.”

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