27 October 1999
Whales suspected as cause of BSE

WHALES were considered as a possible cause of BSE at one stage.

John Wilesmith, an epidemiologist at the governments veterinary laboratory, Weybridge, reveals he once considered whether there was a link with an increase in beachings of whales.

That theory was dropped when he was assured their remains were not used in animal feed.

Mr Wilesmith now favours the hypothesis that cattle became exposed to sheep scrapie.

Changes in the rendering process meant the agent responsible for the disease was not obliterated when it went into animal feed.

  • The Guardian 27/10/99 page 4 (Society)