More mad cows?

Published: Wednesday 15 July 1998

thousands of cattle in Britain that appear to be healthy may still be infected by mad cow disease, say Swiss researchers. Quoting data collected in Switzerland, these researchers say that 450,000 healthy looking cattle could be affected by the dreaded disease.

The study shows that of 1,761 apparently healthy cattle slaughtered, eight later turned out to have been infected with bovine spongiform encephelopathy ( bse ) . Swiss authorities are carrying out more tests to confirm the findings. So far Britain has not conducted such tests. However, the agriculture ministry plans to initiate a study to find out how cattle could carry the disease without being affected.

The European Commission recently unanimously proposed lifting a two-year-old ban on British beef caused by fears over bse . The commission said that the danger is over. British beef had been outlawed after the government admitted in March 1996 to a probable link between bse and a fatal brain disorder in humans who ate large quantities of infected beef.

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