Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 6 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 6-Jan-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 7-Jan-2004
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450 calves in herd linked to mad-cow Holstein to be destroyed by U.S. agriculture officials

450 calves in a Washington state herd that includes an offspring of the cow diagnosed with mad cow disease will be destroyed by U.S. agriculture officials. Ron DeHaven, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinarian, said yesterday that the month-old calves would be slaughtered this week at an undisclosed facility that is not being used.

Dehaven also announced that USDA officials would visit Mexico to discuss that country's ban on American beef products following the diagnosis last month of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease. Mexico is one of approximately 30 countries that decided to halt U.S. beef imports because of the mad cow disease case.

The herd that is to be destroyed is one of three under quarantine in Washington because of ties to the diseased Holstein. The other herds contain cows that probably are from the same Alberta farm as the 61/2-year-old Holstein, but DNA tests to confirm the cow's origins are not complete.

Officials decided to kill all month-old calves in the herd because they cannot determine which one was born to the infected cow. While officials have said contaminated feed is the most likely source of infection, they cannot rule out transmission of the disease from mother to calf. The meat from the calves will not enter the food supply, nor will it be rendered for use in other animal feed or other products, DeHaven said.

The government will pay the owner of the cattle fair market value for the calves, he said.

It is interesting to note, that USDA will not submit the calves' brains for testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, because the disease typically does not show up in animals under 30 months of age, DeHaven said. "Even in the unlikely event that there was maternal transmission to the bull calf, the calf would not test positive at this point," DeHaven said.

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