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Japan Suspects Mad Cow Disease In Bovine

27 April 2007

TOKYO — Preliminary tests on a 6-year-old cow in western Japan indicate it may be infected with mad cow disease, a health official said Tuesday.

Meat inspectors in Okayama prefecture (state) found late Monday that a dairy cow, intended to be slaughtered for meat, has tested positive for the disease, said prefectural health official Waichiro Kawai. The prefecture has sent samples from the cow to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases for confirmation, which could come as early as Wednesday, Kawai said.

Also on Monday, agriculture ministry officials said a 20-month-old steer in northeastern Japan may have had mad cow disease. If confirmed, that case could affect import restrictions on beef from the U.S. and Canada, said Vice Agriculture Minister Mamoru Ishihara.

Japan in December eased a 2-year-old ban on U.S. beef to allow beef imports from cows aged 20 months or younger - an age at which they’re believed less likely to be infected - as long as the meat does not contain brains, bone marrow or other body parts thought to be especially at risk of carrying the brain-wasting disease.

However, the ban was re-imposed in January, after a U.S. veal shipment was found to contain spinal bones, which are restricted under the requirement. The two countries are still negotiating possible safeguards that might allow Japan to resume U.S. beef imports.

Mad cow is a degenerative nerve disease in cattle. Eating contaminated meat products has been linked to the rare but fatal human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes brain tissues to waste.

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Source: Bakusun


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