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Mar 13, 2006
Focus: Death Penalty
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More tests over 'mad sheep disease'
From: http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=358512006

The European Commission has ordered more tests after scientists warned they may have found so-called "mad cow" disease in sheep.

Experts working at the EU's laboratories in Weybridge, Surrey, have been studying the brains of two sheep from France and one from Cyprus amid concerns that they could contain the first detected cases of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in sheep.

Their initial results are far from conclusive. A report sent to the Commission in Brussels says that some data suggests the samples may not be BSE, but goes on: "There is insufficient evidence to definitively rule out BSE".

The expert panel from Weybridge overseeing the work recommended continued investigations and on Thursday the Commission approved the decision.

EU veterinary experts on Wednesday finally lifted the 10-year ban on British beef exports because of BSE.

But the Commission moved swiftly to reassure the public that there is no new danger, whatever the outcome, of the sheep testing.

A statement said: "BSE has never been found under natural circumstances in sheep. The sheep now being evaluated were detected as part of the EU-wide surveillance programme for TSE strains in small ruminants.

"Whatever the final test findings show, there is no risk to public health as the sheep did not enter the food and feed chain and strict animal health measures are applied to all farmed ruminants".

TSE's are Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, a family of diseases including BSE in cows, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jackob Disease (CJD) in humans. It was the fear that BSE in cattle could transfer to humans as variant Creutzfeldt-Jackob Disease (vCJD) which triggered the 10-year British beef export ban.

Scrapie has existed for over 200 years in sheep without showing any signs that it can be transmitted to humans. Equally, BSE has never been detected in sheep before, but experts have long considered that BSE in sheep could be a possibility.
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Posted: Mar 13, 2006 3:06am

 

 
 
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