French goat tested for mad cow disease in UK

2nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Oct 30 (AFP) - Scientists in Britain are testing tissue from a French goat to see whether mad cow disease has been naturally transmitted to another species for the first time, British health officials said on Saturday.

LONDON, Oct 30 (AFP) - Scientists in Britain are testing tissue from a French goat to see whether mad cow disease has been naturally transmitted to another species for the first time, British health officials said on Saturday.

Analysis on parts of the goat's brain will be carried out over the next few weeks at the European Union reference laboratory in Weybridge, south England, a health department spokeswoman said.

French scientists believe the goat had contracted a strain of scrapie - from the transmissable spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) family of diseases - which is indistinguishable from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease.

The European Commission wants the discovery, during a EU-wide surveillance programme after a goat was killed and randomly tested in France in 2002, endorsed but has downplayed the chance of further infection.

If the tissue is confirmed as being infected with TSE, it will be the first time it has been detected in an animal other than cattle.

The presence of BSE in other animals had been viewed as "theoretically possible" but has never previously been detected.

The European Commission said that "this isolated incident does not present a risk to public health as the goat and its herd did not enter the food and feed chain".

Fears for the safety of British beef emerged in 1986 when the brain wasting disease BSE was first discovered in a cow on a farm in West Sussex, south England.

It was 10 years later that the government announced a probable link between BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease, which can cause personality change, loss of body function, and eventually death.

Some 141 people are known to have died of vCJD in Britain.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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