Monday, December 10, 2012

Mad Cow Disease

     The first case of mad cow disease (MCD) in six years was found in a dairy cow in California this past April. The cow showed no signs of infection with MCD (more properly called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE). It had no weakness, altered gait, or decrease in milk production. This past year the U.S. Department of Agriculture tested 40,000 cows for BSE, down from the 380,000 they tested after  the MCD epidemic was noticed in England and attributed to eating meat or spinal cord tissues from infected cows. The disease in humans is progressive, 100% fatal, and has a lead time between infection and detection  in humans of years or decades. The curious fact to me is that one cow farmer (dairy or meat, I forget which) wanted to test ALL his cows for the disease, and the USDA refused him permission. I can think of no non-political reason for their denial, since he was willing to spend his own money on the testing so he could assure his customers that his animal products were disease-free. BTW I still continue to eat meat.

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