3rd cow tested positive for mad cow disease

December 1, 2001 The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo)
A dairy cow, raised in Gunma Prefecture, has tested positive for mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in both initial and follow-up tests for the disease, officials at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Friday.

The ministry will convene a meeting of experts as early as Sunday to reach a final verdict on whether the cow was infected with the disease, they said.

The cow, slaughtered at a meat processing plant in Saitama Prefecture, is expected to be declared the nation's third case of mad cow disease--following infected dairy cows found in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture and Sarufutsumura, Hokkaido--at the meeting of experts. According to the ministry, the cow was raised by a dairy farmer in Miyagimura, Gunma Prefecture. When it turned five years and eight months of age, which is considered old for a dairy cow, it was sent to the slaughterhouse.

The cow was tested for mad cow disease before it was processed, but the test did not show anything unusual, the officials said. However, after it was slaughtered, two tests on material from the cow using the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay method resulted in positive reactions on Thursday. The test was conducted at a meat hygiene inspection center in Saitama.

The ministry's Yokohama quarantine center conducted another test on Friday using the more accurate Western Blot method, and the result was also positive.

The cow will be kept at the processing plant until the final results are confirmed and will not be sent to market, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry will investigate the route through which the cow became contaminated, including the cow's birthplace and what kind of feed it was fed.

Both of the first two cows with the disease were born in Hokkaido and were old--five years of age, and they were fed some of the same feed. Still the government has not yet determined how they contracted the disease.

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