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WSU ending BSE surveillance program

23 February 2007

US - The bovine spongiform encephalopathy surveillance program at Washington State University will cease March 1, three years after it began.
The WSU lab, one of several in the United States established to test for the prevalence of BSE, did not register a single positive result out of 46,125 samples that were processed.

At $12 a sample, the cost of WSU's portion of the surveillance program topped $550,000.

That figure does not include supplies or the two technicians hired by the university. The robotic device, which tested samples taken from cattle around the Northwest by analyzing antibodies that reacted to the presence of prions, cost about $175,000.

The USDA will continue to own the machine, but the university will be allowed to use it to run samples on other BSE related diseases in deer and sheep.

Charlie Powell, spokesman for WSU's Veterinary College, said if the need arises to test cattle again, the lab can be up and running within 48 hours.

Powell said the USDA wisely suspended the program after three years and just three positive results throughout the United States. The positives represented 4/100,000ths of 1 percent of the total tested.

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Source: Capital Press


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