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World Body on Mad Cow Disease to Review Detection Guidelines

December 31, 2003 Bloomberg News
Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) -- The world authority on the detection of mad cow disease is proposing changes to its guidelines that will emphasize testing of animals before they get to the slaughterhouse, an official in Paris said.

The World Organization for Animal Health, also known as the Office International des Epizooties, will propose changes to its 165 member nations on Jan. 15, said Dr. Alex Thiermann, head of the organization's animal health standards commission. The amendments may be ratified at the group's annual meeting in May.

The current guidelines state that for animals over 30 months, the disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is more likely to be found in animals showing clinical signs of BSE than a second grouping of animals that have fallen ill, died or failed a safety check at a slaughterhouse. The proposed new policy will state that the first group is 100 times more likely to have the disease than the second, Theirmann said.

``Surveillance exclusively on healthy animals at slaughter should not be the method used,'' Thiermann said. ``These changes are a prompt to look at live animals in the field.''

The new guidelines will also state that animals showing clinical signs of the disease are 10,000 times more likely to have BSE than a third group, healthy animals over 30 months that are tested at a slaughterhouse.

BSE has been linked to a lethal brain disease in humans.

The organization considers changes to its guidelines every year as new scientific data becomes available. Some changes were made in May, Thiermann said.

The proposed guidelines will delete any references to protein-free tallow being considered safe because tallow, the hardened fat from animal parts, usually contains some protein, Thiermann said.


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