Japan reports eighth case of mad cow disease in 23-month-old Holstein
TOKYO, Oct 6 (AFP) - Japan's health ministry said Monday it has found the nation's eighth case of mad cow disease in a 23-month-old bullock slaughtered last month.
The bullock is the world's youngest animal to be shown to be infected with the disease, believed to be linked to the fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans, a ministry official said.
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The Holstein bullock, slaughtered on September 29 in Ibaraki Prefecture, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Tokyo, tested positive in a preliminary test of bovine spongiform encephelopathy (BSE).
A second preliminary test, which earlier reported inconclusive result, later confirmed the bullock was infected with BSE.
Japan is the only Asian nation to confirm the presence of the brain-wasting disease and has found seven mad cow cases since September 2001. Since October 2001, every cow slaughtered for consumption in Japan has been screened for BSE.
The last case of BSE to be confirmed in Japan was found in an 81-month old Holstein cow in January.
Farm ministry experts have traced the source of the BSE outbreak either to cows imported from Britain in the 1980s or Italian-made meat-and-bone meal imported up to and including 1990, Japanese media reported last week.
The experts estimate there could be more than 30 more cows in Japan BSE-infected in addition to the seven cases so far confirmed, Kyodo News agency said.
Mad cow disease was discovered in Britain in 1986, triggering a slump in beef consumption across Europe and the subsequent slaughter of millions of cows to try to restore consumers' faith in eating beef.
Britain has recorded over 110 cases of vCJD since 1996, linked to beef infected with mad cow disease, and at least 100 people have died.
Victims of vCJD suffer a steady and irreversible loss of their mental and motor functions as a rogue protein proliferates in their brains. Doctors are unable to slow or stop the progress of the disease.
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This article is Copyright 2003 by Agence France-Presse.
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