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BSE confirmed in Czech Republic cow

BSE confirmed in Czech Republic cow

June 8, 2001 Deutsche Presse-Agentur by Helen Luk

The first case of BSE in Eastern Europe was announced Friday in the Czech Republic, a country that until now has taken pride in its disease-free beef.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Hugo Roldan said an official test had confirmed an initial test earlier this week that found evidence of BSE, also called mad-cow disease, in tissue from a cow raised for breeding on a farm in the south-central village of Dusejov.

Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl huddled with advisers and decided late Friday to delay any livestock-destruction action until results from a third test of the tissue are completed at a laboratory in Tubingen, Germany.

Results are expected Thursday.

However, Fencl also said the government's BSE-testing programme would be expanded to include all cattle over 30 months old.

The ministry acted quickly to quell consumer fears. "The government is still telling consumers that Czech beef is healthy," Roldan told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa, noting that brain, spinal cords, eyes and other animal parts that can carry BSE have not been allowed in Czech beef since January 2000.

It is unknown how the cow contracted BSE, which has been linked to a deadly disease in humans who eat certain meats.

Fencl said the infected cow's herd faced destruction. The Dusejov farm is about 10 kilometres west of Jihlava and 50 kilometres north of the border with Austrian - a country that so far has been BSE- free.

Roldan said the government has received no official information about countries that might ban Czech beef to prevent BSE from spreading.

However, on Thursday reports said Slovakia was preparing to ban all Czech beef and beef products if the initial BSE test was confirmed.

Europe's mad cow and foot and mouth crises have already been blamed for a 27 per cent decline in beef consumption among Czech consumers during the first three months of 2001, compared with the same period last year.

Before now the Czech Republic was proud to be BSE-free country.

Prague even filed diplomatic protests recently after the European Union put the country on a list of places that eventually could find the disease. dpa ej ms ks


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