26 March 1998
Scientists fear BSE can remain dormant in cattle
By Boyd Champness
FEARS that cattle might carry the BSE disease but not show any clinical signs of it during their lifespan have been raised by Government scientists.
Following laboratory tests on mice, SEAC – the Governments BSE advisory committee – is now concerned that the BSE agent might be able to remain dormant in cattle.
It has called on the Government to initiate further research into this issue despite the fact that the number of BSE cases continues to decline in line with predictions.
“Such a situation had not been detected in the UK cattle population. However, there was evidence from experiments with mice that, in certain conditions, the TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) agent can persist in the animal without ever causing clinical disease. It will be important as the clinical disease in cattle declines to ensure that there is no such reservoir of latent BSE infection,” the SEAC report said.
The Committee has also urged government to pursue its plans for improving the epidemiological surveillance of scrapie in sheep and goats and to screen as many cases as possible using newly developed techniques.
It also confirmed that that another person in the UK has been struck down by new-variant CJD. The total number of cases now stands at 24.