Mad-cow research spending to double, government says

Mad-cow research spending to double, government says

August 24, 2001 Wisconsin State Journal

The U.S. government will double spending on research on mad-cow disease in the next two years, adding lab space and training experts in an effort to prevent spread of the disease here, U.S. health officials said.

The disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, has not yet appeared in the United States, according to officials. New variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain-wasting condition in humans, can be caused by eating meat from cattle that have mad-cow disease.

National Institutes of Health spending on mad-cow programs will double by the end of 2002 from $24 million in 2000, said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bill Hall.

Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will expand its import inspection program to monitor food products, according to an HHS report.

The report said the United States will triple the number of government investigators working on mad-cow in the next two years.

"There is a critical shortage of investigators and specialized laboratory facilities that can handle the hazardous material used in studies of TSE's," the report said.

Mad-cow disease was identified in the United Kingdom in 1986, and almost 1,000 new cases were reported each week at the height of the epidemic there in 1993. The disease appeared in cattle on mainland Europe last year.

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